joseph cornell is the MAN!
I was introduced to Cornell through Canadian cyberpunk writer, William Gibson, in his book 'Count Zero'. Gibsons descriptions of both Cornells boxes, and those created by the mad AI within the story, inspired me to start seriously creating my own assemblages (I'd done some assemblage jewellery previously) although it was hanging out in a class of glass artist Therman Statum that pushed me into finally working within the Box format.At the time that I read 'Count Zero' I wasn't sure if Cornell wasn't a fiction, so started looking for him (pre Google!) in art history boxes, with only a little success. In '96 or so I saw my first Cornell in Dallas and in '99, on my "pre honeymoon" to San Francisco, went to the SF MOMA to see a Calder exhibition... only to discover an entire exhibition of Cornell was also on display. I ended up having a security guard follow me about eying me suspiciously, as I went box to box, hands behind my back (to stop myself from grabbing them and running off), but still would get as close as I could, nose nearly touching the glass, as I immersed myself in each nuanced detail. Around that same time Cornell suddenly became "flavour of the month" and dozens of books, post card sets, DIY Cornell Box kits suddenly appeared, and equally suddenly I had people start to collect my own Memory Boxes, often referring to how they reminded them of Cornell - an honour, if somewhat undiserved (at least early on).I consider Cornell to be my leading Dead God of Assemblage Artists.
I too love little boxes;I've been neglecting to make mine recently in favour of collage. There's something about capturing time or emotions in a small contained space which really appeals.One of my favourite artists, Canace, just posted something aboutthis on her blog. artbycanace.blogspot.com/2009/08/do-you-love-little-worlds.html