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Untitled

Date: November 13, 1967
Dimensions:
12 x 9 in. (30.5 x 22.9 cm.)
Medium: on rough side of fiberboard panel: paper stained blue with darker stains at center and edges, magazine photo of house-shaped clock at center stained blue-green, detail of bird at center right, book cutout of constellation Cassiopeia at upper center, incised and white graphite lines; verso covered with paper unevenly stained blue
Credit Line: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Gift of the Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation
Copyright: © The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation / VAGA, New York
Inscription: Signed in lower right of verso in white graphite over black ink on a white graphite line: Joseph Cornell Inscribed on upper edge of verso in white graphite: a singular triumph of "collage" / T's Night-time Chime--clock [crossed out] time piece Inscribed along right edge of verso in white graphite: avoid obious, easy titling from GOTHIC [underline] aspect Inscribed along lower edge of verso in white graphite: happy clearance of P.P. obsession--stron RAVEL esprit-- / unconsciously in the elements of the image-- Inscribed along lower edge of verso in white graphite: 11/13/67 finished mirac. after 2 yes or so of dirmanaf [?]
Object Number: 2005.19.7
Label Text:Cornell worked on several pieces at one time, and could take years to complete a work. He began a series of collages with clocks after his brother's death in February 1965, but noted on the back of this collage that he did not finish it until November 1967, after two years of work.

The clock pieces reference Robert's death in particular and the theme of mortality in general. Clocks, marking the passage of time, symbolize the fleeting nature of life, while birds are symbolic of the soul's ability to transcend earthly bounds. Cornell evoked the idea of the soul's passage by placing the bird just outside the image of the clock, where it shares a space occupied by the constellation Cassiopeia. Robert, crippled by cerebral palsy, enjoyed looking at birds from his window, so Cornell's inclusion of a bird may be a more direct reference to him.