Assemblage at Art and Coffee

"Hotel du Nord" by Joseph Cornell

Cornell's "Hotel du Nord (Little Dürer)"

Art and Coffee has been a great new way for our members and visitors to learn more about our major exhibitions, and today’s event was no exception. Continuing our focus on our Pacific Standard Time show 46 N. Los Robles: A History of the Pasadena Art Museum, curator Bridget talked about Assemblage, an important movement in modern and contemporary art, and used the fantastic works in our exhibition as examples.

Assemblage developed from the pasted collages developed by French Cubists in the early 1910s. As an outgrowth of two-dimensional collage, artists put together found materials or objects creating a new three-dimensional art. The artists were also influenced by their surroundings, the buildings and cities left in fragments as a result of the First World War. Assemblage was present in New York beginning in the 1930s with Joseph Cornell and later, Robert Rauschenberg.  In 1950s California, assemblage became prominent in the work of artists like George Herms, Ed Kienholz and Llyn Foulkes, all of whom are represented in 46. N. Los Robles.

Bridget focused particularly on Joseph Cornell’s work, and began by pointing out that his work often defies categorization into one particular artistic movement. As a self-taught artist, Cornell was associated with the Surrealist movement in the 1930s and 1940s and was chiefly known for his box constructions, including Hotel du Nord (Little Dürer) in 46 N. Los Robles.  In this work Cornell framed various found objects combining the high and lowbrow, ranging from reproductions of paintings to dime-store jewelry. Bridget spoke about how Cornell would gather found objects (or send assistants out searching for him!) and wait for the perfect combination before creating a box. As with many of the works in 46 N. Los Robles, this isn’t the first time Hotel du Nord has been in this building– a Cornell retrospective was held at the Pasadena Art Museum in the 1960s (check out these fantastic pictures of the show here, including his boxes installed where our Himalayan gallery is today!).

46 N. Los Robles features many wonderful examples of Assemblage work, so make sure to check them out before the show closes on April 8. Also mark your calendar for March 9, the last Art and Coffee of this exhibition, as well as the many related programs coming up soon!~CM

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