The Metropolitan Museum’s new exhibition, “Birds of a Feather: Joseph Cornell’s Homage to Juan Gris” (23 January to 15 April 2018) examines a unique moment in the American modernist’s career when a chance viewing of Juan Gris’ work inspired one of Cornell’s most impactful series.

When Cornell had the opportunity to view Juan Gris’ The Man at the Café (1914) in New York in 1953, he was so taken with the composition that he immediately returned to his studio to launch a new series of his iconic shadowboxes. The 18-box series that resulted, one of the most comprehensive of Cornell’s career, was united by the motif of the white cockatoo, which, though not directly connected to Gris’ influential painting, nevertheless alluded to the two artists’ kindred interests in form, color, and the creation of shadow. 

Visitors can experience this connection at the exhibition, which brings together Gris’ 1914 paintings and twelve of Cornell’s boxes from the series along with additional works to reveal the intriguing connection between these two pivotal artistic figures. More details on the exhibition can be found on the museum’s website.