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SUNDAY

Fans of Joseph Cornell’s quizzical jewel-box constructions shouldn’t be alarmed to discover that their maker was one weird bird. Just how weird is another matter, one captivatingly addressed by Wall Street Journal art critic Deborah Solomon in the first serious biography of the artist. Named after the street in Flushing, Queens, where he lived with his widowed mother and palsied brother, Utopia Parkway: The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell presents the artist as a distressingly damaged, loyal, but solitary figure; by turns generous and brusque, he was terrified of confronting life but determined not to deal it a glancing blow. Perhaps the only great artist who was a bigger mama’s boy than Proust, Cornell was a sickly Christian Scientist and a lifelong virgin. So wrapped up in the life of the eye and mind that he scarcely knew of any other kind, he excelled in a sort of interior design for the psyche. Solomon lectures and signs at 4 p.m. at the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium, 4th & Constitution Ave. NW. FREE. (202) 737-4215. (Glenn Dixon)