Not on View

Habitat Group for a Shooting Gallery

Photo Credit: Rich Sanders, Des Moines

Habitat Group for a Shooting Gallery

Artist: Joseph Cornell (American, 1903 - 1972)
Date: 1943
Medium: Mixed media
Overall: 15 1/2 x 11 1/8 x 4 1/4 in. (39.4 x 28.3 x 10.8 cm.)
Credit Line: Purchased with funds from the Coffin Fine Arts Trust; Nathan Emory Coffin Collection of the Des Moines Art Center, 1975.27
Accession number: 1975.27
Classification: sculpture
In Collection(s)
Label TextThe subject of birds, seen singly or in groups, recurs often in Cornell's boxes and collages. Cornell's aviaries, as these bird boxes are frequently called, most often depict their inhabitants in restful quietude, sometimes in a natural wooded setting, more often in a man-made environment complete with toys, mirrors, ladders, and an occasional cage-like strip of wiring. Habitat Group for a Shooting Gallery is unusual among the artist's boxes in at least two respects: an element of violence intrudes and there is a spatially ambiguous and symbolically rich background in front of which drama is played. The peaceful scene has been shattered by a bullet, piercing the glass and leaving a splotch of red on the head of the bird in the middle of the construction. The background is scattered with images pertaining primarily to France -- Cornell was an ardent Francophile. Joepsh Cornell was born on Christmas Eve of 1903 in Nyack, New York. He was self-taught as an artist. Although he was spiritually akin to the Surrealists, at no time did he become a member of that movement. Cornell died in 1972, a few days after his sixty-ninth birthday. Source: Bulletin, March-April 1976.
InscriptionJoseph Cornell 1943 (in ink) Habitat Group for a Shooting Gallery (typed); on label painted on back tip center
Exhibition History"MCM - Y2K: A CENTURY OF ART ON PAPER," Des Moines Art Center, Dec. 11, 1999 - Feb. 13, 2000

"The American Century: 1900 - 1950," Part 1, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, April 23 - Aug. 22, 1999

"Commitment, Community and Controversy: The Des Moines Art Center Collections," Des Moines Art Center, January 24, 1998 - May 10, 1998

"Individuals: A Selected History of Contemporary Art 1945-1986," exhibition organized by Julia Brown Turrell, Curator and Project Director for the Museum fo Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Dec. 6, 1986 - Jan. 10, 1988

"Joseph Cornell," Museum of Modern Art, N.Y., Nov. 12, 1980 - Jan. 20, 1981, (circulated to: Art Institute of Chicago, Jan. 30 - Mar. 28, 1982; did not travel to four European venues of exhibition tour)

"New York Painting and Sculpture: 1940-1970," Metropolitan Museum of Art, N.Y., Oct. 15, 1969 - Feb. 1, 1970

"An Exhibition of Works by Joseph Cornell," Pasadena Art Museum, Dec. 27, 1966 - Feb. 11, 1967

"The Art of Assemblage," Museum of Modern Art, N.Y., Oct. 2 - Nov. 12, 1961, (circulated to: Dallas Museum of Contemporary Arts, Jan. 9 - Feb. 11, 1962; San Francisco Museum of Art, Mar. 5 - Arp. 15, 1962)

Anne D'Harnoncourt, Intro. Joseph Cornell/Marcel Resonance. Menil Foundation, Inc.: Houston, TX, 1998: pg.67 b/w detail; pg.200, pl.82 color ill.; image discussed pg.67

"Dance: American Art," publ. Detroit Institute of Arts, 2016, Jane Dini, ed., p.264, fig.1
Published References"The Modern and the Whitney," ARTS, October 1961, ill. p.48

"The Art of Assemblage," Museum of Modern Art, N. Y., 1961, exh. cat. no.46, ill. p.70

William Seitz, THE ART OF ASSEMBLAGE, exhibition catalogue, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1961, ill. p.70

John Coplans, "Notes on the Nature of Joseph Cornell," ARTFORUM, February 1963, illus. p. 28

"An Exhibition of Works by Joseph Cornell," Pasadena Art Museum, CA, 1966, exh. cat. no.15, ref. no.15, p.60, color ill.29

"New York Painting and Sculpture: 1940 - 1970," Metropolitan Museum of Art, N. Y., 1969, exh. cat. no.31, color ill. p.69

Edmund Burke Feldman, VARIETIES OF VISUAL EXPERIENCES: ART AS IMAGE AND IDEA, Harry N. Abrams, New York, 1971, ill. p.500

Paul Hammond, "Fragments of the Marvelous", ARTS AND ARTISTS, vol.XII, no.4, July 1973, ref. pp.28-33, color ill. p.28

Alex Mogelon and Norman Laliberte, ART IN BOXES, Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, New York, 1974, b/w ill. p.83, with 4 details

Diane Waldman, JOSEPH CORNELL, George Braziller Inc., New York, 1977, color ill. no.10

Dore Ashton, A JOSEPH CORNELL ALBUM, Viking Press, New York, 1974, ill. p.78

DMAC Bulletin, Mar./Apr. 1976, cover ill.

Yoshiaki Touno, "New York", ASAHI SERIES, Vol. 77, The Zauho Press, Tokyo, Japan, 1979, color ill. p.171

"Joseph Cornell," Museum of Modern Art, N. Y., 1980, exh. cat. ref. pp.28-37, 46 & 55, color ill. pl. no.XXIII

Kay Larson, "The Cage of Anxiety", NEW YORK MAGAZINE, Nov. 24, 1980, pp.62 and 67, color ill. p.62 (Time Magazine/Nov. 24, 1980)

Robert Hughes, "Linking Memory and Reality in New York: The eccentric, poetic boxes of Joseph Cornell", TIME MAGAZINE, Dec. 1, 1980, color ill. p.101

Peter Selz, ART IN OUR TIMES: A PICTORIAL HISTORY 1970-1980, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., and Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York, ill. fig.1031, p.381

THE NATHAN EMORY COFFIN COLLECTION: A portfolio of fifty selections from the collection, published by the Des Moines Art Center in 1981 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of Nathan Emory Coffin, color ill.

Roberta Smith, "Sorting Out Cornell", ART IN AMERICA, vol.69, no.3, March 1981, pp.74-80, ref. p.78, color ill. p.76

DES MOINES ART CENTER: SELECTED PAINTINGS, SCULPTURES AND DRAWINGS, Des Moine Art Center, 1985, ref. pp.51 & 52, color ill. pl.V, p.101

"Individuals: A Selected History of Contemporary Art, 1945 - 1986," Museum of Contemporary Art, L. A., 1986, ref. p.341

Donald Goddard, AMERICAN PAINTING, Hugh Lauter Levin Associates, Inc., 1990, color ill. p.183.

Diane Waldman, COLLAGE, ASSEMBLAGE, AND THE FOUND OBJECT, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York, 1992, b/w ill. p.212, pl.281

Deborah Solomon, UTOPIA PARKWAY: THE LIFE AND WORK OF JOSEPH CORNELL, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 1997, p.157

AN UNCOMMON VISION: THE DES MOINES ART CENTER, Des Moines Art Center, 1998, ref. p.85, color ill. p.84

Anne d'Harnoncourt, Intro. JOSEPH CORNELL/MARCEL DUCHAMP... IN RESONANCE, Menil Foundation, Inc., Houston, 1998, ref. and b/w detail p.67, color ill. pl.82, p.200

"Joseph Cornell", Shadowplay Eterniday, Thames and Hudson, 2003, pgs. 128, 248

Bruce Thomas Boehrer, "Parrot Culture: Our 2500-Year-Long Fascination with the World's Most Talkative Bird", University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004, figure 37

Richard Verdi, "The Parrot in Art", Scala Publishers, 2007, pg. 36 (color ill.)

Lynda Roscoe Hartigan "Joseph Cornell: Navigating the Imagination" Peabody Essex Museum and Yale University Press, pgs. 198-199(full image and detail)

JOSEPH CORNELL: WANDERLUST. London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2015. pgs.160, 161,264.

entirely unexpected