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Untitled (Soap Bubble Set)

A work made of box construction.
© The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation / Licensed by VAGA at ARS, New York

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  • A work made of box construction.


c. 1957


Joseph Cornell
American, 1903–1972

About this artwork

Soap bubble sets were among Cornell’s earliest imaginary constructions, going back to his contribution to the 1936–37 exhibition Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. This box forms an interesting contrast with the other Soap Bubble Set in the Bergman collection (see Soap Bubble Set). Here the bold form of the moon fills the back panel, its pitted surface finding an echo in the cork ball suspended on the parallel rods. Like the earlier box, this one includes a drinking glass. A clay pipe lying on the floor of the box forges the link between the “bubbles” and the planets. Cornell seems to wish to counteract, however, the obviously poetic, dreamlike connotations of this box by emphasizing the scientific interest of the moon through its precisely “mapped” surface and the tables with astronomical data pasted in at the left and right.


On View, Gallery 397


Modern Art


Joseph Cornell


Untitled (Soap Bubble Set)


United States (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Box construction


Signed on back, lower right, on paper label: Joseph Cornell


9 1/8 × 14 1/2 × 3 3/4 in.; 2 1/4 × 3/8 in. rubber "bumper" bottom center on back

Credit Line

Lindy and Edwin Bergman Joseph Cornell Collection

Reference Number



© The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation / Licensed by VAGA at ARS, New York

Extended information about this artwork

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