”Through blue-tinted glass”

Elie Nadelman (American, born Poland, 1882–1946)
Woman at the Piano, c. 1917 (detail)
Stained and painted wood
Joseph Cornell
Taglioni’s Jewel Casket, 1940
Joseph Cornell
Taglioni’s Jewel Casket, 1940
Joseph Cornell
Taglioni’s Jewel Casket, 1940
Elie Nadelman (American, born Poland, 1882–1946)
Woman at the Piano, c. 1917 (detail)
Stained and painted wood

The first of dozens of works that Cornell made in honor of famous ballerinas, this box pays homage to Marie Taglioni, an acclaimed nineteenth-century dancer of Italian origin, who, according to the legend inscribed in the box’s lid, kept an imitation ice cube in her jewelry box to commemorate the time she danced in the snow at the behest of a Russian highwayman. The box is infused with erotic undertones—both in the tactile nature of the glass cubes, velvet, and rhinestone necklace (purchased at a Woolworth’s dime store in New York) and in the incident itself, in which Taglioni reportedly performed on an animal skin placed across a snowy road. Adding to the intimacy of this delicate construction, the glass cubes were designed to be removed, revealing a hidden recess below that contains two beaded necklaces and rhinestone chips placed on a mirrored surface and seen through blue-tinted glass. [source: MoMA]

Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern

MoMA, Mar-Jun 2019

March 15th, 2019