Untitled (Primary Title)
Medici Slot Machine (Series Title)
Shadow box (Object Name)

Joseph Cornell, American, 1903 - 1972 (Artist)

mid–1950s to early 1960s
Wood and glass box with Plexiglas, photograph, child's blocks, and ribbon
Overall: 16 5/8 × 11 3/4 × 6 1/8 in. (42.23 × 29.85 × 15.56 cm)
Not on view

“Shadow boxes become poetic theater or settings wherein are metamorphosed the elements of a childhood pastime.” —Joseph Cornell

Cornell began making his box-constructions in the 1930s. Over time, they have been associated with Surrealism, Assemblage, and even Pop Art. Cornell often supplemented a work’s found objects with imagery sourced from magazines, books, or other artists. Here a reproduction of Bronzino’s Renaissance portrait of Bia de’ Medici serves as the focal point. Around it, Cornell placed blocks and a scrap of pink ribbon. He may have chosen the image because of his fondness for children, as well as the connection between Bia, who died young, and his brother, Robert, who suffered from cerebral palsy. This box is considered unfinished; Cornell worked on multiple boxes simultaneously, often putting them in storage to resume work at a later date.

Gift of the Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation
Collection of the Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation, Key Biscayne, Florida; Gift to Virginia Musuem of Fine Arts (VMFA), Richmond, Virginia in October of 1996.
©artist or artist’s estate

Some object records are not complete and do not reflect VMFA's full and current knowledge. VMFA makes routine updates as records are reviewed and enhanced.