Fascinated by cinema, theater and dance, Joseph Cornell often chose famous female performers as the subjects of his creations. In The Nearest Star, an Allegory of Time a collection of seemingly incongruous materials is thoughtfully crafted into a three-dimensional homage dedicated to one of the most idolized figures of the 1950s and 60s, Marilyn Monroe. Cornell’s body of work suggests an ephemeral scrapbook chronicling his love and lust for both idols and exotic far-away harbors. His methods of portraiture are unconventional and reminiscent of an archivist. Almost without compare, Monroe’s untimely death in August of 1962 inspired an outpouring of artistic tribute, most famously by Andy Warhol. While Warhol memorialized her image on canvas in a silkscreened glamour-shot, Cornell poignantly dedicated a group of unique boxes to the starlet, including The Nearest Star, an Allegory of Time, by carving “MM” on their reverse. Cornell was extremely taken with Marilyn Monroe, researching her life in detail and collecting articles and photos. Rather than portray her literally, however, Cornell dedicated this box as a portrait-homage, exemplifying Cornell’s particular artistic strategy and methodology as well as his mournful views on her life and death. Monroe’s tumultuous and highly public life as a Hollywood starlet is alluded to in the form of the Sun that Cornell embeds within the sparse, ordinary surface of the wood box; the sun perhaps symbolizing Monroe’s eternal presence in our culture as a burning fire that will never stifle. Cornell’s boxes act as a clue into the mechanisms of the magical world that was his mind, where his fascination with escaping his secluded home life, and the everyday, is captured by the decontextualizing of objects that come from very such places. His most powerful relationships and most successful homages were to the people the he knew only in his dreams. The Nearest Star, an Allegory of Time provides us with an uncensored view into Cornell’s compassion for and devotion to one of the world’s most desirable idols.