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"Utopia Parkway: The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell" by Deborah Solomon shows an artist who was indeed his own man, and full of imagination. Eventually his artwork found its way into New York galleries and led to a long, interesting career in the art world of America and the international market.

Book Review: ‘Utopia Parkway: The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell’ by Deborah Solomon

In this new edition of the twenty-year-old book Utopia Parkway , Deborah Solomon takes us through the life of Joseph Cornell, offering a fascinating depiction of New York and the 20th century art scene.

Through Solomon’s skill as an art critic, in page after page, she brings Joseph Cornell to life, not just as a reclusive artist, but a talented innovator. She details his true place in the art world, and his lasting legacy for future generations, as an equal with other great artists during four decades in the mid 20th century.
Cornell’s slow rise to artistic fame was largely due to his self-imposed isolation when working on his art after daily labor in various businesses. He never married and lived at home with his mother and disabled brother after his other siblings had grown up and gone out on their own.

Content to work in isolation, this self-taught artist was indeed his own man. Full of imagination, he created exquisite art forms as long as he lived. Eventually his artwork found its way into New York galleries and led to a long, interesting career both at home and internationally. Once he was able to establish himself at the forefront of the avant-garde movement, he was rewarded with commercial success. His unusual collages and miniature worlds created in box frames remain as popular an art form today as when they were first produced.

While his acceptance in the art world was slow, much of that was due to his introverted lifestyle. Working long hours on his creations at home kept him out of the mainstream art scene. Cornell supported himself with through commercial work and office jobs, but did eventually have a successful, if not lucrative, career with his unique art. Eventually, in 1967, he enjoyed two large and important retrospective exhibitions of his works at the Guggenheim in New York City, which finally gave him international attention and high praise in the art world. Author Solomon notes that only three other Americans ever had one-man shows there: Mark Rothko, Alexander Calder and Barnett Newman.

After decades of work, Cornell at last had the fame due to him. He enjoyed being part of the Pop Art movement, and the triumphant show was hailed by critics. Utopia Parkway brings the reader inside the life and times of this magical artist.

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