Thursday, May 17, 2012

I spy, with my little eye...

Memories II, 1976

When my five-year-old saw these images on my computer, she flew at the screen like a magpie, squawking "What is that?! What is that, Mommy?" I think part of the attraction is that Marie Cosindas's tableaux are kinda reminiscent of Walter Wick's I Spy books. That's a terrible thing to say about fine art, right? The other reason is that artful(ish) piles of clutter are a specialty in these parts, and my daughter is an extra-special fan (no one loves sorting the old tackle box more). There was a brief moment when I actually thought about drawing from our own abundant tchotchke resources and shooting my own I Spy photographs and then turning them into books on Shutterfly and then I thought if I really had time to do that sort of project hadn't I ought to start looking for a paying job?

According to Tom Wolfe's introductory essay to Marie Cosindas: Color Photographs, Cosindas was also something of a young magpie:

Rich, congested, and yet delicate and orderly arrangements were the sort Maria Cosindas delighted in. It was a look that resonated with memories of her childhood. In the apartment that she and her nine brothers and sisters grew up in, there was a corner with a little built-in cupboard that became her private preserve. She used to spend entire afternoons arranging every toy, knickknack, doll, and souvenir she possessed upon the shelves. The motif turns up in both of her pictures called Memories.

How great is that? Of course she had her own Cabinet of Curiosities, a la Pippi Longstocking. No wonder I love these photos, even though they are all creepy and Havishamy and I can feel the dust gathering in my nostrils just looking at them. It's a familiar feeling.

Christmas Tree, 1967

Christmas Still Life, 1970

Roses, Mexico, 1966

Masks, 1966


  1. Hi. Marie Cosindas passed away May 25, 2017, at the age of 93. I am her niece and can confirm that her luxurious apartment was FILLED with organized clutter. She saved all sorts of things that could be included in a photo. Several weeks ago I asked her why she was saving a stack of the metallic green paper that Andes mints come wrapped in. She replied, "well I might have a use for them someday." 93 - lol. Marie was a bit eccentric and had a great sense of humor. She didn't work much anymore. Plus, she was plagued by back trouble for many years that made it hard for her to get around. I'm glad that people have renewed interest in her work. It's very unfortunate that she never got to write her memoirs. She had plenty of interesting stories that are gone with her.


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