“Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors,” the first institutional survey exhibition to explore the evolution of the celebrated Japanese artist’s immersive infinity rooms, will embark on the most significant North American tour of her work in nearly two decades. Following its debut at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden on Feb. 23, 2017, which is the organizing institution, “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” will travel to four major museums in the United States and Canada, including the Seattle Art Museum (June 30–Sept. 10, 2017), The Broad in Los Angeles (Oct. 2017–Jan. 2018), the Art Gallery of Ontario (March—May 2018), and the Cleveland Museum of Art (July–Oct. 2018).
“Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” provides visitors with the unique opportunity to experience six of Kusama’s most iconic kaleidoscopic environments at once, alongside large-scale, whimsical installations and key paintings, sculptures and works on paper from the early 1950s to the present. It also marks the North American debut of numerous new works by the 87-year-old artist, who is still actively creating in her Tokyo studio. These include large-scale, vibrantly colored paintings and the recently realized infinity room, All the Eternal Love I have for Pumpkins (2016), featuring dozens of her signature bright yellow, dotted pumpkins.
“Yayoi Kusama, who, at this stage of her career, is a worldwide phenomenon, has the ability to inspire audiences of all ages with the power of her art. It is a privilege and an honor to collaborate with our four partnering institutions to offer audiences across North America the opportunity to experience more than six decades of her artistic output,” said Melissa Chiu, the Hirshhorn’s director.
About the exhibition
Organized in rough thematic order, “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” begins with the artist’s milestone installation “Infinity Mirror Room—Phalli’s Field” (1965/2016), a dense and dizzying field of hundreds of red-spotted phallic tubers in a room lined with mirrors.
The exhibition will also include “Infinity Mirror Room–Love Forever” (1966/1994), a hexagonal chamber into which viewers will be able to peer from the outside, seeing colored flashing lights that reflect endlessly from ceiling to floor. The work is a re-creation of Kusama’s legendary 1966 mirror room “Kusama’s Peep Show” (no longer extant), in which the artist used to stage group performances in her studio in the late 1960s.
Kusama’s signature bold polka dots will be featured in “Dots Obsession—Love Transformed into Dots” (2009), a domed mirror room surrounded by inflatables suspended from the ceiling. More recent spectacular LED environments, filled with lanterns or crystalline balls that seem to extend into infinite space, will be represented by “Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity” (2009) and “Souls of Millions of Light Years Away” (2013).
“As Yayoi Kusama’s work is realized in different spaces, each venue will offer a unique sensory journey through Kusama’s world,” said Hirshhorn Associate Curator Mika Yoshitake, who organized the exhibition. “When visitors explore the exhibition, they will inevitably become part of the works themselves, challenging their preconceived notions of autonomy, time and space.”
A selection of more than 60 paintings, sculptures and works on paper will also be on view, showcasing many of Kusama’s lesser-known collages, made after her return to Japan in 1973. These works trace the artist’s trajectory from her early surrealist works on paper, Infinity Net paintings and Accumulation assemblages to recent paintings and soft sculptures, highlighting recurring themes of nature and fantasy, utopia and dystopia, unity and isolation, obsession and detachment, and life and death.
The exhibition will conclude with Kusama’s iconic participatory installation “The Obliteration Room” (2002), an all-white replica of a traditional domestic setting. Upon entering, visitors will be invited to cover every surface of the furnished gallery with multicolored polka dot stickers, gradually engulfing the entire space in pulsating color.
“Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” will be accompanied by an exhibition catalog that takes an unprecedented interdisciplinary approach to her work and includes a catalogue raisonne of Kusama’s Infinity Rooms, along with an illustrated chronology and artist biography with newly published archival material. The contributing authors will introduce new research that sheds light on this pioneering contemporary artist, including essays by Yoshitake, Gloria Sutton and Alexander Dumbadze and an interview with Kusama conducted by Chiu.
For more information on #InfiniteKusama and the Hirshhorn’s presentation of “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors,” visit hirshhorn.si.edu/infinitekusama.