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Cornell’s glazed boxes contain assemblages of found objects that have mysterious and poetic associations. This work is dedicated to Giuditta Pasta, a nineteenth-century Italian opera singer. Cornell idolised a number of almost-forgotten stars of the ballet and opera, who epitomised for him the ideals of the Romantic era. The box includes astronomical charts and two balls balanced on rods, which suggest planets orbiting the sun. This astronomical theme may relate to a contemporary account, which Cornell kept among his cuttings, in which Pasta’s voice is described as evoking the beauty of the night sky.

September 2004