Museums in Miniature: Works by Marcel Duchamp and Joseph Cornell

Saturday, Sep 26, 2009-Sunday, Jan 31, 2010
Pink Chateau
Joseph Cornell
Pink Chateau
1969, mixed media. Courtesy of a private collector.

Museums in Miniature explores the use of collage, assemblage, and staged tableaux by Marcel Duchamp and Joseph Cornell as plays on the notion of an exhibition space. Evocative juxtapositions, absurdities, and rebuses abound in Cornell’s work, demonstrating the enduring influence of Duchamp’s practice, and of Surrealism more broadly, during the second half of the 20th century. Duchamp will be represented by MCASD’s The Green Box (1934) and by a version of his Boîte-en-valise (1942-54), which contains miniature replicas of three of Duchamp’s works. Duchamp described the Boîte-en-valise as a “miniature museum,” or a portable retrospective of his oeuvre to that point.

The exhibition also showcases several box constructions by Joseph Cornell. The rounded arches of Untitled (Grand Hôtel des Alpes) (1957) function as architectural fragments that refer to a monumental structure, while the elaborate fenestration of Pink Chateau (1944) seems the perfect backdrop for an epic ballet. Duchamp’s “miniature museums” are ironic, polemic, and humorous; Cornell’s are richly textured and extraordinarily poetic. Together the works by Duchamp and Cornell serve as a prelude to the exhibition, Automatic Cities on view in the adjacent galleries. The exhibition is curated by MCASD Curator Robin Clark.