Somewhere in the city
in Regarding the real
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In Joseph Cornell’s New York films from the 1950s, documentary forms shift between realism and symbolism, materiality and mystery. This chapter emphasizes several converging critical contexts for the study of these films: firstly, the visual – especially, photographic – culture in New York in the 1950s, a culture that included Cornell, even if he did not, officially, belong to any of its coteries; secondly, the people he worked with on these films, especially his collaborations with Rudy Burckhardt and Stan Brakhage, and their respective connections to the New York School, and the city’s burgeoning avant-garde scene; thirdly, how – in formal terms – Cornell’s films from the 1950s relate to his other art work, especially, the boxes, assemblages, the collage-montage films of the 1930s, and his artistic vision, more generally; and finally, the relevance of these films to a broader discussion on documentary practice, and its relation to the modern visual arts.

Regarding the real

Cinema, documentary, and the visual arts


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