The Hotel Eden, 1945
assemblage with music box
38.3 x 39.7 x 12.1 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 17606)
© The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation / SODRAC, Montreal / VAGA, New York (2013)
A somewhat solitary and eccentric figure, Joseph Cornell lived all his life in his mother's house in Queen's, New York City, where he spent every evening taking care of his invalid brother. During the day, Cornell scoured second-hand bookstores and antique shops in Manhattan, collecting images and objects that served as the raw material for his art. Birds often figure in the intriguing small wooden boxes for which he is best known. In this assemblage, a lithograph mounted on wood shows a parrot perched on a branch; the parrot's beak appears to be pulling a string, which in turn activates a rotating disk. The disk may be a reference to fellow Dada artist Marcel Duchamp's "Rotoreliefs", several of which are also held in the National Gallery's collection.