I must have been taken by my parents to see the Joseph Cornell boxes at the Art Institute of Chicago as a little boy. Although I don’t remember seeing anything by Cornell so early in life (we left Chicago when I was six), I do know that when I was very young and I heard the word “art” I thought automatically of something mysterious and beautiful, insistently but obscurely meaningful, contained within a box.

I drew and painted obsessively from around the age of five, and I created rudimentary dioramas in shoe boxes, usually involving my own clay figures, a toy or two, and a picture from a magazine. When my family moved from Chicago to Europe, I was regularly taken to museums and cathedrals and, being a child with a particular relationship to reality, began aspiring to the accomplishments of Raphael and da Vinci, though I did not, at the time, quite know one from the other. My most ambitious

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