About this artwork
Cornell’s works sometimes gave the appearance, as in this case, of being wholly ready made. Only at second glance do they reveal his additions and alterations to the original found object. In Untitled (L’Abeille), the frame resembles the frames of his boxes, thereby suggesting a genre somewhere in between collage and construction. The blue staining that runs down the inside of the glass on each side of the text enhances its antique look, and the gold bees are added so subtly that they seem part of the fancy advertising for the company, L’Abeille, offering daily trips for English visitors in Belgium to Waterloo. The latter had become a tourist attraction, as the site of Napoleon’s defeat in 1812 at the hands of the English. Cornell may also have been attracted by the slight misprints on this notice (“THESE AND BACK,” for instance), which reinforce the idea of the foreign. A contemporary English audience would find a further oddity in this announcement, since it would immediately identify Waterloo as the London railway station. As indicated by the inscription on the back of this work, Cornell dedicated this collage to Jacques Brel (1929–1978), the French songwriter and singer, who became internationally known after 1957 and toured the United States in the 1960s.
— Entry, Dawn Ades, Surrealist Art: The Lindy and Edwin Bergman Collection at the Art Institute of Chicago, 1997, p. 90.
- Joseph Cornell
- Untitled (L'Abeille)
- United States
- Commercially printed papers and gold appliques on untempered masonite, with coin and blue ink on glass, framed
- 270 × 346 mm
- Lindy and Edwin Bergman Joseph Cornell Collection
- Art © The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY