A major exhibition of work by Yayoi Kusama is on view at The New York Botanical Garden through October 31, 2021. Titled KUSAMA: COSMIC NATURE, this presentation explores the artist’s lifelong engagement with nature, and will include multiple installations, from signature mirrored environments and organic forms, to polka-dotted sculptures of flowers and pumpkins, paintings, and a participatory greenhouse installation that will be transformed over the course of the exhibition. Also on display are sketchbooks demonstrating an early fascination with the natural world that continues to inspire Kusama’s work.
Today, with the world facing COVID-19, I feel the necessity to address it with this message:
A MESSAGE FROM YAYOI KUSAMA TO THE WHOLE WORLD
Though it glistens just out of reach, I continue to pray for hope to shine through
Its glimmer lighting our way
This long awaited great cosmic glow
Now that we find ourselves on the dark side of the world
The gods will be there to strengthen the hope we have spread throughout the universe
For those left behind, each person’s story and that of their loved ones
It is time to seek a hymn of love for our souls
In the midst of this historic menace, a brief burst of light points to the future
Let us joyfully sing this song of a splendid future
Embraced in deep love and the efforts of people all over the world
Now is the time to overcome, to bring peace
We gathered for love and I hope to fulfil that desire
The time has come to fight and overcome our unhappiness
To COVID-19 that stands in our way
I say Disappear from this earth
We shall fight
We shall fight this terrible monster
Now is the time for people all over the world to stand up
My deep gratitude goes to all those who are already fighting.
Revolutionist of the world by the Art
From Yayoi Kusama
October 14–October 21, 2019
Yayoi Kusama has conceived a major new public work by for Place Vendôme, Paris, as part of FIAC Hors les Murs, 2019. Co-presented by Victoria Miro, Ota Fine Arts, and David Zwirner, Life of the Pumpkin Recites, All About the Biggest Love for the People (2019) is installed near the Vendôme Column. The work expands on several of the most recognizable motifs of Kusama’s visual language—the pumpkin, the polka dot and the inflatable—and is the artist’s largest inflatable sculpture to date.
Due to high winds in Paris this week, Yayoi Kusama's Life of the Pumpkin Recites, All About the Biggest Love for the People, 2019, presented as part of FIAC Hors les Murs 2019, has had to be taken down from Place Vendôme. FIAC, Victoria Miro, Ota Fine Arts and David Zwirner thank all those who visited the work. We are also grateful to the City of Paris for enabling the presentation as well as to Mirabaud, sponsor of FIAC Hors les Murs Place Vendôme, and CSIG for their generous support of this project.
September 24, 2019–February 7, 2021
ICA Boston is to present LOVE IS CALLING, an installation by Yayoi Kusama that debuted in Japan in 2013, and was presented in a solo exhibition at David Zwirner the same year. The largest of Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Rooms, this work stands as one of the artist’s most immersive, kaleidoscopic environments to date. It is composed of a darkened, mirrored room illuminated by inflatable, tentacle-like forms—covered in the artist’s characteristic polka dots—that extend from the floor and ceiling, gradually changing colors. A sound recording of Kusama reciting a love poem in Japanese plays continuously. Written by the artist, the poem's title translates to Residing in a Castle of Shed Tears in English. Exploring enduring themes including life and death, the poem poignantly expresses Kusama’s hope to spread a universal message of love through her art.
In addition to LOVE IS CALLING, this show will feature a focused presentation drawn from the ICA’s collection. Titled Beyond Infinity: Contemporary Art After Kusama, it will offer insight into the development of Kusama’s work and its influence on contemporary art.
Last presented at High Museum of Art the major traveling exhibition Infinity Mirrors was the first institutional survey to explore the evolution of Yayoi Kusama's immersive infinity rooms. Following its debut at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington D.C., the exhibition traveled throughout the United States and Canada. Infinity Mirrors included an unprecedented six infinity rooms, as well as installations, sculpture, and large-scale paintings, many of which were making their United States debut.The exhibition traveled to Seattle Art Museum (June 30–September 10, 2017), The Broad in Los Angeles (October 21, 2017–January 10, 2018), and the Art Gallery of Ontario (March 3–May 27, 2018), and Cleveland Museum of Art (July 9–September 30, 2018).
Read the exhibition announcement in the New York Times.
In a review of the show for The Seattle Times, Gayle Clemans described Kusama’s work as “cathartic and concrete, universal and specific, infinitely appealing and intimately personal.”
Video courtesy of The Guardian
Viewers joined documentary filmmaker Heather Lenz and curator Marian Masone for a special screening of Lenz’s 2018 documentary Kusama – Infinity, hosted by Victoria Miro during Art Basel.
Premiered in the US Documentary Competition at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, Kusama – Infinity is a feature-length documentary exploring the full span of Yayoi Kusama’s career, from her early life in Japan to the fifteen years the artist spent in New York, starting in 1958, to her return to her native country and the later international recognition of her work.
The Los Angeles Times reports "Kusama – Infinity tells the story of contemporary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, who moved to New York City and created ‘avant-garde innovations’ inspired by the 1960s American political and social revolution. Writer and director Heather Lenz shows how Kusama faced racism and sexism to become a world-renowned artist." The documentary is scheduled to play at a series of festivals across the United States this summer.
The screening was followed by a Q&A with Lenz and Masone.
Saturday, June 16, 8 PM
Stadtkino Basel Klostergasse 5 Basel 4051, Switzerland
May 12–September 9, 2018
Life Is the Heart of a Rainbow traveled to Museum MACAN in Jakarta from Queensland Art Gallery at the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane, where it contributed to record attendance figures for the museum in 2017 (November 4, 2017–February 11, 2018). In Brisbane, the exhibition was accompanied by Kusama's Narcissus Garden (1966/2002) in the Watermall at Queensland Art Gallery, and the interactive installation The Obliteration Room (2002–ongoing) in the Children's Art Centre at the Gallery of Modern Art. The exhibition was initially shown at the National Gallery Singapore, where it was the first major museum presentation of the artist's work in Southeast Asia (June 9–September 3, 2017).
Life is the Heart of a Rainbow spanned seven decades of Kusama's artistic practice and included 120 works, some being shown for the first time. The exhibition featured paintings from the artist's most recent series, My Eternal Soul, as well as sculptures, videos, and installations, including immersive mirrored infinity rooms.
Curated by Russell Storer, Senior Curator at the National Gallery Singapore, with Adele Tanhis, the exhibition was organized by the National Gallery Singapore in collaboration with Queensland Art Gallery.
March 3–July 22, 2018
A major retrospective of Yayoi Kusama’s work was presented in the artist’s hometown of Matsumoto. Featuring 180 works spanning different media and dating from the 1930s to the present day, Yayoi Kusama: All About My Love was the artist’s fourth and largest show to date at the Matsumoto City Museum of Art. A solo exhibition by Kusama marked the museum’s inauguration in 2002, and was followed by two further shows—The Place for My Soul in 2005, and Eternity of Eternal Eternity in 2012. An installation by the artist titled The Place for My Soul has been on permanent display at the museum since it opened.
Kusama was born and spent the early part of her life in Matsumoto in Japan’s Nagano prefecture, where her parents owned a seed nursery. It was there that she first created the distinctive motifs of dots and netlike patterns which have remained consistent throughout her career. As the artist recalls in her autobiography, Infinity Net, “Deep in the mountains of Nagano, working with letter-size sheets of white paper, I had found my own unique method of expression: ink paintings featuring accumulations of tiny dots and pen drawings of endless and unbroken chains of graded cellular forms or peculiar structures that resembled magnified sections of plant stalks.”
Kusama moved to New York in 1958, aged twenty-nine, and spent seventeen years there before returning permanently to Japan in 1975. The artist is based in Tokyo, where the Yayoi Kusama Museum opened in October 2017 with the inaugural exhibition Creation Is a Solitary Pursuit, Love Is What Brings You Closer to Art, featuring her recent series of paintings My Eternal Soul. The exhibition was on view through February 25, 2018.
From her studio in Tokyo, Yayoi Kusama recorded a personal message for visitors to her exhibitions at David Zwirner in New York, the city in which she lived for more than 15 years between 1958 and 1975. The Japanese artist expresses her gratitude to both the gallery and the public, and hopes the works on view afford a sense of hope and love.
October 1, 2017–February 25, 2018
The Yayoi Kusama Museum has opened in Tokyo with the inaugural exhibition Creation Is a Solitary Pursuit, Love Is What Brings You Closer to Art. The exhibition presents 45 works including 16 paintings from the artist's recent series My Eternal Soul.
The museum dedicated to Kusama’s work is being directed by Tensei Tatebata, president of Tama Art University in Tokyo and director of the Saitama Museum of Modern Art in Tokiwa. There will be two exhibitions each year and one floor devoted to installations of the artist's mirrored "infinity rooms;" the top floor houses a reading room and an archive.
The New York Times reports, "the museum, a five-story building designed by Kume Sekkei, was completed in 2014, but Ms. Kusama, 87, remained quiet about its purpose. (She perhaps alluded to the project in an interview in February with The Washington Post when she was asked what had been the highlight of her career. 'It's still coming,' Ms. Kusama said. 'I'm going to create it in the future.')" A further article in The New York Times describes "large red polka dots and mirrors in the elevators and a bulbous mosaic pumpkin sculpture on the top floor."
Critically acclaimed exhibitions of Kusama’s work are currently traveling through Asia and America. Life is the Heart of a Rainbow travels to Queensland Art Gallery at the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane on November 4 following its presentation at the National Gallery Singapore, where it was the first major museum presentation of the artist's work in Southeast Asia (June 9 - September 3, 2017).
Infinity Mirrors, the major museum survey which includes an unprecedented six infinity rooms as well as installations, sculpture, and large scale paintings, travels throughout the United States and Canada through February 2019.
September 23–December 2, 2017
Four paintings from Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Net series were presented at Judd Foundation in New York this Fall. The exhibition was curated by Donald Judd's son Flavin Judd, and recalled his father's friendship with Kusama and support of her work, including the early Infinity Net paintings. In an ARTNEWS review of Kusama's first solo exhibition in New York at the artist-run Brata Gallery in 1959, Donald Judd wrote, "Yayoi Kusama is an original painter. The five white, very large paintings are strong, advanced in concept and realized . . . The effect is both complex and simple."
The exhibition was accompanied by public programs exploring Judd's relationship with his contemporaries in New York from the 1960s through the 1980s.
Read more in The Art Newspaper.
Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction
April 15–August 13
Three works by Yayoi Kusama were included in the critically acclaimed group exhibition Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. Drawn entirely from the Museum’s collection, the exhibition featured a 1951 ink on paper work that is a precursor to her Infinity Nets series, an oil on canvas work entitled No. F (1959), and a collage of gelatin silver prints by the artist dating from 1962.
Works by gallery artists Anni Albers and Ruth Asawa were also included in the exhibition.
Read more: a review of the exhibition by Holland Cotter in The New York Times
The Philip Johnson Glass House presented a unique installation of Kusama's Narcissus Garden on its grounds in New Canaan, Connecticut. First exhibited at the 1966 Venice Biennale, the work is created from thousands of mirrored steel spheres that, in this iteration, floated on the surface of the Glass House pond, moving with the wind and water's currents. A pumpkin sculpture was also installed on the grounds of the historic landmark site.
The exhibition was organized by Irene Shum, Curator and Collections Manager at the Glass House, to celebrate the 110th anniversary of Philip Johnson's birth and the tenth anniversary of the opening of the Glass House site to the public.
During September 2016, the special installation Dots Obsession – Alive, Seeking for Eternal Hope was also on view. The Glass House itself was covered in red dots, transforming the structure into a signature Kusama infinity room.
A major museum retrospective of Yayoi Kusama's work traveled through Europe and to the United States in 2011–2012. The exhibition surveyed the full range of the artist's career, including early paintings made prior to Kusama's move to New York in 1957 to soft sculptures, Infinity Net paintings, mirrored infinity rooms, and the series of works begun in 2009 titled My Eternal Soul. Initially presented at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, the exhibition travelled to the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, Tate Modern in London, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
"The first works we see are rather beautiful, surreal watercolours from the 1950s, which occasionally echo Klee and Miró," wrote Mark Hudson in a review of the exhibition at Tate Modern for The Telegraph; in the Infinity Net paintings, Hudson continues, "endlessly repeated semicircular brushstrokes are covered in veils of thinner paint, creating a weblike effect which extends Pollock's idea of the 'all over' composition, with the sense that we are seeing just a fragment of a potentially endless work." For Holland Cotter, who wrote about the final presentation of the retrospective at The Whitney Museum of American Art for The New York Times, "there is no doubt about her heroic, barrier-crashing accomplishment . . . Her Infinity Net paintings and Accumulation sculptures are deservedly classics of global stature; her Japanese work of the 1940s and early 1970s are treasures still underknown."
July 1–September 3, 2018
First presented as an unofficial installation and performance at the 33rd Venice Biennale in 1966, Yayoi Kusama’s Narcissus Garden (1966–present) came to the Rockaways in New York for the third edition of Rockaway!, a free annual arts festival. The work, which is composed of more than one thousand stainless steel spheres, was last shown in 2016 as part of a solo exhibition at The Glass House in Connecticut, where the spheres floated freely on the surface of a pond.
Curated by MoMA PS1 director Klaus Biesenbach, the site-specific installation occupied an abandoned train garage in Fort Tilden, a decommissioned military base on the beach. Biesenbach told The New York Times that the work "will look very, very different than before." The exhibition was free and open to the public Fridays through Sundays, 12 to 6 PM, as well as Wednesday, July 4, and Monday, September 3 (Labor Day).
For its original presentation in Venice in 1966, Kusama staged Narcissus Garden—then made from plastic spheres—on the lawn outside the Italian Pavilion. Clad in a gold kimono, the artist stood among the spheres with signs reading "Narcissus Garden, Kusama" and "Your Narcissism for Sale." She offered the spheres to the public for sale for 1,200 lire (approximately $2) each in what is seen as an important moment anticipating the artist’s public performances in New York during the late 1960s. As the critic Catherine Taft writes in Yayoi Kusama, a major monograph recently re-released by Phaidon, "Infinite repetition and the multiplication of space as an act of erasure is the underlying approach to all of Kusama’s mature installations." Narcissus Garden, which has been shown around the world since the artist began revisiting her early installations in the late 1990s, achieves this effect through the polished silver surfaces of the spheres, which mirror their surroundings in a multitude of changing reflections. At Fort Tilden, this quality is also being invoked to reflect on the history of a former military site as well as the damage caused in the area by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Artnet predicted that this summer presentation of the work would draw even bigger crowds than last year’s edition of Rockaway!, recalling the 75,000 visitors to Festival of Life, Kusama’s 2017 solo show at David Zwirner, New York, which featured an infinity room with stainless steel balls.
Yayoi Kusama Book Launch and Film Screenings, Plus David Zwirner Books’ Surfside Pop-Up
Preview Screening: Friday, August 31, 8:30 PM
Book Launch: Thursday, September 6, 6–8 PM
New York | Dover Street Market
Advance copies of Yayoi Kusama: Festival of Life were featured as part of the NYFW Open House at Dover Street Market New York. The Open House draws a wide and influential crowd to the store for an evening of art, fashion, and culture. Dover Street Market is the exclusive retailer of the publication in New York City until its general release on September 25.
Film Screening: Thursday, September 7, Various Times
New York | Film Forum
Kusama – Infinity screening at Film Forum movie theatre.
Pop-Up: Through Sunday, September 16
Amagansett | Pilgrim Surf + Supply
The David Zwirner Books summer pop-up store was installed at Pilgrim Surf + Supply in Amagansett, New York. Copies of the forthcoming David Zwirner Books publication Yayoi Kusama: Festival of Life were exclusively available in Long Island here.
Image: Yayoi Kusama drawing in Kusama - Infinity, directed by Heather Lenz. © Tokyo Lee Productions, Inc. Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.