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Untitled (Homage to Blériot)

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.




Joseph Cornell
American, 1903–1972

About this artwork

This box is an example of Cornell‘s ability to convey ideas and associations by minimal means. A construction of thin pieces of wood is delicately balanced from the center of the metal spring coil, on which it bounces freely. The arrangement hints at the wings and propeller of a biplane, thus relating to the title, which in earlier exhibitions was listed simply as Bleriot. Louis Bleriot (1872-1936) was a pioneering French aviator, the first to fly across the English Channel in 1909. The strongly marked wood grain, stained pale blue, of the inner wall of the box evokes both the waves of the sea, over which early planes flew low, as well as perhaps clouds in the sky. Cornell papered the back of the box with a French newspaper, L’Economiste francais (June 15, 1893). Given the subject of this box, the choice of paper backing—always an integral part of a box’s construction for the artist—seems not entirely fortuitous. Another, closely related box, referred to as Bleriot # 2, has been dated around 1956 (estate of Joseph Cornell; New York 1980–82, no. 115, ill.). It differs from this one primarily in the relationship of the components within the box.

— Entry, Dawn Ades, Surrealist Art: The Lindy and Edwin Bergman Collection at the Art Institute of Chicago, 1997, p. 84.


On View, Gallery 397


Modern Art


Joseph Cornell


Untitled (Homage to Blériot)


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 piece of newsprint: Joseph Cornell


47 × 28.6 × 12.1 cm (18 1/2 × 11 1/4 × 4 3/4 in.)

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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