Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Poetic Theater

"Untitled (Soap Bubble Set),” by Joseph Cornell

I've already pimped for the Joseph Cornell show in my "What to See" column, but I can't resist giving this best-of-year show one more plug - to theatre lovers in particular. It's hard to explain, but in the shadowy, vaguely lunar installation at the Peabody/Essex Museum, Cornell's strange assemblages and collages often strike one as evocative, miniature stage sets (he called them "poetic theaters" for good reason). Beautiful in and of themselves, they're also clearly obsessed with the perception, memory, and delivery of beauty - a classic concern of the stage - and far more than most surrealist works, seem impregnated with an almost Beckett-like sense of the passage (and stasis) of time. Rarely have the worlds of visual art and theatre overlapped so hauntingly. ["Untitled (Tamara Toumanova)," at right.]

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