Assemblage artist and sculptor who also created surrealist, avant-garde films, such as the found-film montage "East of Borneo" from 1936.
He was born in Nyack, New York and studied at the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, for a time. He was largely self-taught. His discovery of 'Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures' from Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy guided much of his philosophy in life.
He was known for his use of boxes in works of assemblage art such as "Soap Bubble Sets" and the "Medici Slot Machine" series.
He was reclusive and too socially awkward to successfully pursue a romantic relationship; however, he devoted his life to caring for his brother Robert who suffered from cerebral palsy.
He screened one of his experimental films at the Museum of Modern Art in New York for Salvador Dali and other artists. Dali's immediate hatred of the film greatly distressed Cornell.