Kusama’s career began in the 1960s after she left her hometown in Japan for New York City. During a time characterized by a vibrant art scene, political unrest, and social movements, Kusama thrived in her new environment, both creatively and personally – she released her first two series of works, Infinity Nets and Accumulation Sculptures, both remarkable representations of her obsessions with patterns, shapes, and simplicity. Challenging the status quo in an otherwise male-dominated industry, Kusama incorporated ‘not only her inner experiences but also herself in her works.’ She crossed boundaries and went against social norms, emerging as a unique, and controversial, icon in the art world – she participated in political performances, body painting, and orgies, organized art events, engaged in anti-war protests, and started her own magazine, Kusama’s Orgy.
Appointing herself the ‘High Priestess of Polka Dots,’ Kusama’s 1960’s theme of dots and repetition returns with her newest installation, In Infinity – organized by Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark, In Infinity has traveled to Henie-Onstad Kunstsenter in Norway and is currently on display at Moderna Museet/ArkDes in Stockholm; the show will finish at Helsinki Art Museum (HAM) in Finland.
‘To share her experiences, Kusama creates works of art that invite visitors to lose themselves in the infinite nets, mirror rooms and thousands of polka dots with which she covers the world. It is as if her installations suspend time and space – an infinity that embraces rather than overwhelms us,’ says curator Jo Widoff.
Derived from visions of her childhood past, In Infinity is a window into the psyche of Kusama while also connecting viewers with her past works of the 1960s. It is the first time she will be highlighting fashion and design, including works from her avant-garde fashion label, The Nude Fashion Company, and features paintings, drawings, sculptures, and large-scale installations Infinity Mirrored Room – Hymn of Life and Narcissus Garden (1966).
Yayoi Kusama, Mirror Room (Pumpkin), 1992 View at Moderna Museet/ArkDes, Stockholm, as a part of the exhibition Yayoi Kusama – In Infinity, 2016. | © Yayoi Kusama/Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore, Victoria Miro Gallery, London, David Zwirner, New York. Photo: Åsa Lundén/Moderna Museet
Exhibition details: In February 2017, Hirshhorn Museum will play host to six of Kusama’s Infinity Rooms along with over 60 paintings and sculptures before traveling to Seattle Art Museum (June 30, 2017-September 20, 2017), The Broad in Los Angeles (October 2017-January 2018), the Art Gallery of Ontario (March 2018-May 2018), and finally, Cleveland Museum of Art (July 2018-October 2018).