Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929), An Encounter with a Flowering Season, 2009. Synthetic polymer on canvas, 130.3 x 162 cm. Collection of the artist. © Yayoi Kusama. Image courtesy Yayoi Kusama Studio Inc.; Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo; Victoria Miro Gallery, London; and Gagosian Gallery, New York.

Yayoi Kusama with latest paintings at Tokyo 2011, Musashi University, Tokyo. Collection Yayoi Kusama. Image courtesy Yayoi Kusma Studio Inc.; Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo; Victoria Miro Gallery, London; and Gagosian Gallery New York.

Yayoi Kusama, More than Six Decades of Multi-Disciplinary Works

Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929), I Want to Live Honestly, Like the Eye in the Picture, 2009. Synthetic polymer on canvas, 130.3 x 162 cm. Collection of the artist. © Yayoi Kusama. Image courtesy Yayoi Kusama Studio Inc.; Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo; Victoria Miro Gallery, London; and Gagosian Gallery, New York.

Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929), All about my Love, and I Long to Eat a Dream of the Night, 2009. Synthetic polymer on canvas, 130.3 x 162 cm. Collection of the artist. © Yayoi Kusama. Image courtesy Yayoi Kusama Studio Inc.; Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo; Victoria Miro Gallery, London; and Gagosian Gallery, New York.

Yayoi Kusama, b. 1929, Fireflies on the Water, 2002. Mirror, plexiglass, 150 lights and water, Overall: 281.9 x 367 x 367 cm. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Postwar Committee and the Contemporary Painting and Sculpture Committee and partial gift of Betsy Wittenborn Miller 2003.322a-t. © Yayoi Kusama. Photograph courtesy of Robert Miller Gallery.

Yayoi Kusama, b. 1929, Accumulation, c. 1963. Sewn and stuffed fabric, wood chair frame, paint, 90.2 x 97.8 x 88.9 cm. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase 2001.342. © Yayoi Kusama. Photograph by Tom Powel.

Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929), Late-night Chat is Filled with Dreams, 2009. Synthetic polymer on canvas, 162 x 162 cm. Collection of the artist. © Yayoi Kusama. Image courtesy Yayoi Kusama Studio Inc.; Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo; Victoria Miro Gallery, London; and Gagosian Gallery, New York.

 

Whitney Museum of American Art
945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street
212-570-3600
New York
Yayoi Kusama
July 12-September 30, 1012

Legendary, semi-reclusive, and still vibrant, Yayoi Kusama, who turned 83 in March, has created an extensive body of work since the 1940s. Ranging from her earliest explorations in painting to new works made in the past few years, this survey — the artist’s first major exhibition in New York in 15 years — celebrates a career of exceptional duration and distinction (her work spans more than six decades of intense productivity in Japan and the United States), tracing the development of Kusama into one of the most respected and influential artists of her time.

The traveling exhibition is organized in collaboration with Tate Modern and has been seen over the past year in Madrid, Paris, and London; the Whitney is its final stop. It was curated by Frances Morris, Tate’s Head of Collections (International Art). The Whitney installation is overseen by curator David Kiehl. Both Tate and Whitney presentations are supported by Louis Vuitton.

In 1989, Kusama was given important solo exhibitions at the Center for International Contemporary Arts, New York, and the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, England. In 1993, she participated in the 45th Venice Biennale. As Chris Dercon, director of Tate Modern, notes in his foreword to the catalogue, “This is the first large-scale museum retrospective of Kusama’s career to be staged in the west since Love Forever: Yayoi Kusama 1958-1968, the seminal survey of her work organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and The Japan Foundation in 1998 …Love Forever focused exclusively on Kusama’s production during her years in the United States. This exhibition, by contrast, seeks to show the full breadth of the artist’s output throughout her lengthy and varied career, contextualizing Kusama’s American sojourn with representations of her early and late career in Japan.”

Yayoi Kusama’s art encompasses an astonishing array of media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, film, performance, and immersive installation. It ranges from works on paper featuring semi-abstract imagery, to soft sculptures known as Accumulations, to her Infinity Net paintings, made up of carefully repeated arcs of paint built up into large patterns, to the dense patterns of polka dots for which she is perhaps best known. Like her near contemporaries Eva Hesse, Louise Bourgeois, and Nancy Spero, Kusama’s work has gained over time the recognition it deserves, following periods in which her work was received with acclaim and other periods in which she was almost completely overlooked.

The exhibition unfolds chronologically, in a sequence of rooms, each devoted to the emergence of a new artistic phase. Much of Kusama’s art has an almost hallucinatory intensity that reflects her unique vision of the world, whether through obsessively recurring imagery, a teeming accumulation of detail, or the dense patterns of nets and polka dots that have become her signature.

Kusama is also renowned for her environments, immersive, large-scale installations of dazzling power. The Whitney’s installation includes her extraordinary Fireflies on the Water (2002), shown here in our 2004 Biennial and now part of the Whitney’s collection. As described by Christian Rattemeyer in the 2004 Biennial catalogue: “The reflective interior environment consists of a small room lined with mirrors on all sides, a pool in the center of the space, and 150 small lights hanging from the ceiling, creating a dazzling effect of direct and reflected light emanating from both the mirrors and the water’s surface. Fireflies embodies an almost hallucinatory approach to reality, while shifting the mood from her earlier, more unsettling installations toward a more ethereal, almost spiritual experience.”

Yayoi Kusama was born in Matsumoto, Japan, in 1929. In her early career she immersed herself in the study of art, integrating a wide range of Eastern and Western influences, training in traditional Japanese painting while also exploring the European and American avant-garde. Kusama arrived in New York in 1958, where she worked hard to gain recognition. In the 1960s and early 1970s she became a major figure in the New York avant-garde, associated with key developments in Pop, Minimalism, and performance art, and exhibiting alongside artists she came to know well, including Donald Judd (her downtown loft neighbor), Andy Warhol, Joseph Cornell, and Claes Oldenburg. The exhibition includes a group of Kusama’s first Infinity Net paintings from her early years in New York, canvases covered in unceasing, scalloped brushstrokes of a single color. Kusama forged her own direction in sculpture and installation, adopting techniques of montage and soft sculpture. The exhibition includes a significant selection of her classic Accumulation Sculptures dating from 1962 to 1968. As the 1960s progressed, Kusama moved from painting, sculpture, and collage to installations, films, performances, and happenings as well as political actions, counter-cultural events, fashion design, and publishing. The exhibition includes Kusama’s iconic film Kusama’s Self- Obliteration (1968), capturing this period of performative experimentation, and an extensive selection of archival material revealing the ways in which Kusama’s artistic activity extended beyond the boundaries of the gallery.

After achieving fame and a certain prominence in New York through her groundbreaking and prescient art happenings and events, she returned to her country of birth in 1973. The exhibition includes a selection of the vibrant and evocative collages she created on her return, during a period in which she was also forging a parallel career as a poet and novelist. Major sculptural installations include The Clouds (1984), comprising 100 unique black and white sprayed sewed stuffed cushions, and Heaven and Earth (1991), which features snake-like forms emerging from 40 boxes. The exhibition concludes with a series of works from the last decade.

The exhibition is accompanied by a major new catalogue (published by D.A.P.) and the first English translation of Kusama’s autobiography Infinity Net (University of Chicago Press).

Yayoi Kusama is curated by Frances Morris, Head of Collections, International Art, Tate, with Rachel Taylor, Assistant Curator, Tate Modern. The exhibition has been organized by Tate Modern in collaboration with the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929), Self-Obliteration No. 1, 1962-7. Watercolor, ink, graphite, and photocollage on paper, 40.4 x 50.4 cm. Collection of the artist. © Yayoi Kusama. Image courtesy Yayoi Kusama Studio Inc.; Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo; Victoria Miro Gallery, London; and Gagosian Gallery, New York.

Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929), Self-Obliteration No. 1, 1962-7. Watercolor, ink, graphite, and photocollage on paper, 40.4 x 50.4 cm. Collection of the artist. © Yayoi Kusama. Image courtesy Yayoi Kusama Studio Inc.; Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo; Victoria Miro Gallery, London; and Gagosian Gallery, New York.

 

Yayoi Kusama posing in Aggregation: One Thousand Boats Show, 1963 installation view, Gertrude Stein Gallery, New York 1963, © Yayoi Kusama and © Yayoi Kusama Studios Inc.

Yayoi Kusama, Self-Obliteration, 1967, Ink and photography, 18.2 x 24 cm, Image courtesy of the artist.

Yayoi Kusama, a Cosmic Whirlpool of Infinity in the 1960s and Beyond

Yayoi Kusama, 1939, Image courtesy: Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo, © Yayoi Kusama, Yayoi Kusama Studio Inc.

Yayoi Kusama 1965, Courtesy of Victoria Miro Gallery, London and Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo © Yayoi Kusama, courtesy Yayoi Kusama studio inc. Photo: Eikoh Hosoe.

 

Tate Modern
Millbank
+ 020 7887 8888
London
Level 4
Yayoi Kusama
February 9-June 5, 2012

Yayoi Kusama’s (b.1929) pioneering work spans over six decades and this exhibition highlights the artist’s moments of most intense innovation. Kusama is one of Japan’s best-known living artists and since the 1940s she has developed an extensive body of work. From her earliest explorations of painting in provincial Japan to new unseen works, the exhibition reveals a history of successive developments and daring advances, demonstrating why Kusama remains one of the most engaging practitioners today.

Conceived as a series of immersive environments, the exhibition unfolds in a sequence of rooms, each devoted to the emergence of a new artistic stance. Much of Kusama’s art has an almost hallucinatory intensity that reflects her unique vision of the world, whether through a teeming accumulation of detail or the dense patterns of nets and polka dots that have become her signature. She is renowned for her "environments," large-scale installations of dazzling power that immerse the viewer. A highlight of the exhibition is a new installation conceived especially for the show, Infinity Mirrored Room – Filled with the Brilliance of Life, 2011, Kusama’s largest mirrored room to date.

Yayoi Kusama was born in Matsumoto, Japan in 1929. In her early career she immersed herself in the study of art, integrating a wide range of Eastern and Western influences, training in traditional Japanese painting while also exploring the European and American avant-garde. In the late 1950s, Kusama moved to the United States and during her time there worked tirelessly to position herself at the epicentre of the New York art scene. The exhibition includes a group of Kusama’s first Infinity Net paintings from her early years in New York, canvases covered in endlessly-repeated, scalloped brushstrokes of a single colour. Kusama forged her own direction in sculpture and installation, adopting techniques of montage and soft sculpture which historians have seen as influencing artists such as Andy Warhol and Claus Oldenburg. The exhibition includes Aggregation: One Thousand Boats Show, 1963, her first room installation, and a significant selection of her classic Sex Obsession and Food Obsession Accumulation Sculptures dating from 1962-68.

As the 1960s progressed, Kusama moved from painting, sculpture and collage to installations, films, performances and "happenings" as well as political actions, counter-cultural events, fashion design and publishing. The exhibition includes Kusama’s iconic film Self-Obliteration, 1968, capturing this period of performative experimentation, and an extensive selection of archive material that reveal how Kusama’s artistic activity extended beyond the bounds of the gallery.

In 1973 Kusama returned to Japan where she continues to live and work today. The exhibition includes vibrant and evocative collages she created on her return, during a period in which she was also forging a parallel career as a poet and novelist. Major sculptural installations are featured including The Clouds, 1984, comprising 100 unique black and white sprayed sewed stuffed cushions, and Heaven and Earth, 1991, which features snake-like forms emerging from 40 boxes. The exhibition concludes with a series of works from the last decade including I’m Here, but Nothing, 2000-, in which a darkened domestic space is covered with fluorescent polka dots.

Yayoi Kusama is curated by Frances Morris, Head of Collection, International Art, Tate with Rachel Taylor, Assistant Curator, Tate Modern. The exhibition was organised by Tate Modern in collaboration with Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Centre Pompidou, Paris and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. The exhibition is accompanied by a major new catalogue and the first English translation of Yayoi Kusama’s autobiography Infinity Net.

Yayoi Kusama, The Passing Winter (detail) 2005, © Tate. Presented by the Asia Pacific Acquisitions Committee 2008. Photo: Tate Photography.

Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Dots Mirrored Room, 1996, installation in Mattress Factory Museum, Pittsburgh, 2010.

Yayoi Kusama, Self-Obliteration No.2, 1967, © Yayoi Kusama and © Yayoi Kusama Studios Inc.

Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Mirror Room - Phalli’s Field (Floor Show), 1965 (1998), Photo: Bob Goedewaagen.

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror Room – Phalli's Field, Reprising the 1960s

Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Mirror Room - Phalli’s Field (Floor Show), 1965 (1998), Sewn stuffed fabric, board, mirror room without ceiling, 250 x 455 x 455 cm inside, Mixed media, Installation view: R. Castellane Gallery, New York, Courtesy Yayoi Kusama.

Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Mirror Room - Phalli’s Field (Floor Show), 1965 (1998), Sewn stuffed fabric, board, mirror room without ceiling, 250 x 455 x 455 cm inside, Mixed media, Installation view: R. Castellane Gallery, New York, Courtesy Yayoi Kusama.

 

Museum Boijmans
Van Beuningen
Museumpark 18-20
+ 31 (0)10 44.19.400
Rotterdam
Yayoi Kusama
Infinity Mirror Room – Phalli’s Field

September 7, 2010-December 5, 2011

Infinity Mirror Room – Phalli’s Field is the first installation in which Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama (Matsumoto, 1929) made use of mirrors, a material that she has continued to use ever since and which. Together with her characteristic dots, mirrors are an essential component of Kusama’s. Infinity Mirror Room – Phalli’s Field was Kusama’s second large-scale total environment: a mirrored room that consumes the visitor and makes him or her a participant in the work. It is a key work in the oeuvre of one of the most important artists of the second half of the 20th century.

In 2008 Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen organised the exhibition Mirrored Years, which showed Yayoi Kusama’s unrivalled vigour by establishing a confrontation between her early installations, films and sculptures from the 1960s and her recent work. Mirrored Years demonstrated the continuity in Kusama’s oeuvre as well as the freshness and innovation of certain themes within her work. Infinity Mirror Room – Phalli’s Field was included in the exhibition.

Yayoi Kusama gained worldwide recognition in the art world almost immediately after she moved to New York in 1958. She created a stir with her large installations in which the visitor was surrounded by thousands of small, colourful, stuffed — often phallic — textile objects. Her reputation was especially strong in the Netherlands: in the 1960s she exhibited more frequently here than in any other country. Her presence gave an additional impulse to the development and international recognition of the Dutch Nul group. Working in a variety of disciplines, Kusama developed an increasingly diverse, rich and layered body of work. Her fascination with sensory experiences and large installations has had a significant influence on generations of leading artists.

This autumn the museum hopes to acquire this unique installation for its permanent collection. Alongside many important works by members of the Nul and Zero groups and associated movements, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen has an extensive collection of Pop art, Op art and Minimalism. Kusama’s work forms an excellent complement to these aspects of the collection.

Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Mirror Room - Phalli’s Field, 1965, Castellane Gallery, New York.

Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Mirror Room - Phalli’s Field (Floor Show), 1965 (1998), Photo: Hans Wilschut