When she was living in New York during the 1960s, Yayoi Kusama entered into an intense though platonic romance with the reclusive artist Joseph Cornell, and when he died in 1972 he left her a shoebox filled with his precious clippings from nature magazines—the birds, insects, and other animals that he famously used in his surrealistic so-called Cornell boxes. Devastated, Kusama moved back to her native Japan in 1973 and, in 1977, checked herself into the hospital where she lives and works to this day.
A few years later, however, Kusama took out Cornell’s shoebox and, in homage to her late lover, began turning the clippings into collages, centering them on monochrome paper and ringing them with her own signature “infinity” nets and dots. In total, she made about 150 of them, selling many of them to Japanese collectors, and for the past five years the enterprising London dealer Omer Tiroche has been painstakingly buying them back. Displayed as a partial set for the first time at the Armory Show, the diminutive collages line the wall of his booth, drawing in a steady stream of intrigued collectors.