It’s a cardboard box where, for years, Joseph Cornell collected small keepsakes from his friendship with Duchamp. The box contains 117 items of various types: The French artist’s empty tobacco pouch, two cleaners for his famous white pipe, a napkin from Horn & Hardart (one of those automats that was all the rage in the 30’s and where they almost certainly met), letters, photographs, postcards of the Mona Lisa, several yellowed notes in his handwriting, gallery posters and even dry cleaning receipts which reveal Duchamp’s unusual habit of sending everything to the dry cleaner, even socks and handkerchiefs.
The box was put on display for the first time in 1998, on the occasion of the Joseph Cornell/Marcel Duchamp: In Resonance exhibition held in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
No one can explain how Cornell managed to acquire such “mementos.”
Allison A. deFreese and María Negroni
Writer’s Biography: María Negroni (Rosario, Argentina) has published over 20 books, including poetry, nonfiction and novels. Islandia, Night Journey, Andanza (The Tango Lyrics), Mouth of Hell, and The Annunciation have appeared in English, and her work has also been translated into Swedish, Portuguese, Italian, and French. María Negroni received a Guggenheim fellowship for poetry in 1994, a Rockefeller Foundation fellowship in 1998, the Fundación Octavio Paz fellowship for poetry in 2001, and The New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship in 2005. She also received a National Book Award for her collection of poems El viaje de la noche, a PEN Award for Islandia as best book of poetry in translation (New York 2001), and the Premio Internacional de Ensayo y Narrativa de Siglo XXI for her book Galería Fantástica. She taught at Sarah Lawrence College from 1999 to 2014, and is now director of Argentina’s first creative writing program, at Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero.
Translator’s Biography: Allison A. deFreese (Portland, Oregon) has lived in Mexico, Bolivia and Japan. She has previously translated work by Karla Marrufo, José Castillo Baeza, and other Latin American writers. She has three book-length translations forthcoming in 2020: a translation and trilingual adaptation of José R. Cervantes Carrillo’s A Practical Guide to Learning the Yucatec Mayan Language; María Negroni’s Elegy for Joseph Cornell, and Soaring to New Heights (Renuevo), the autobiography of NASA astronaut José Moreno Hernández who spent part of his childhood in Michoacán and worked as a migrant farmworker in California. She holds an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin’s James A. Michener Center for Writers, as well as an MA in Spanish Translation from the University of Texas at Brownsville (now Rio Grande Valley).
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