The Broad’s first visiting special exhibition, “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” — the first institutional survey to explore the celebrated Japanese artist’s immersive Infinity Mirror Rooms — will embark on the most significant North American tour of her work in nearly two decades, and The Broad will be the only California museum to host the exhibition when it comes to Los Angeles in 2017.
Following its debut at the organizing institution — Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden — on Feb. 23, “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” will travel to four major museums in the U.S. and Canada: the Seattle Art Museum (through Sept. 10), The Broad in Los Angeles (October 2017–January 2018), the Art Gallery of Ontario (March–May 2018) and the Cleveland Museum of Art (July–October 2018).
Since opening in September 2015, The Broad has featured Kusama’s installation “Infinity
Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away” (2013) from the Broad collection. One of the most popular artworks on view at The Broad, situated off its dramatically sculptural lobby, the installation is a mirror-lined chamber populated with a dazzling and seemingly vast array of LED lights creating a disorienting sense of limitless space.
The work will be accessible to free general admission ticket-holders until the opening of the Kusama paid special exhibition in mid-October, when it will transition to be included in the special exhibition through early January 2018.
“Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” will provide visitors with the unique opportunity to experience six of Kusama’s infinity rooms — the artist’s most iconic kaleidoscopic environments — alongside large-scale installations and key paintings, sculptures and works on paper from the early 1950s to the present, which contextualize the foundational role the concept of infinity has played in the artist’s work over many decades and through diverse media.
The exhibition 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 the Pumpkins” (2016), featuring dozens of her signature bright yellow, dotted pumpkins.
“Our Infinity Mirrored Room has become a cultural phenomenon and many of our visitors are extremely passionate about Kusama’s work,” said Joanne Heyler, founding director of The Broad. “The timing is right for an exhibition that contextualizes the infinity rooms and brings Kusama’s contributions to 20th– and 21st-century art into deeper focus. We are thrilled to present this unprecedented special exhibition at The Broad next year that engages seven decades of work by a phenomenal artist.”
About the Exhibition
Organized by Mika Yoshitake, associate curator at the Hirshhorn, in rough chronological 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), 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 The Broad’s “Infinity Mirrored Room — The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away.”
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 raisonee 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 Melissa Chiu, director of the Hirshhorn.
As a paid special exhibition at The Broad, “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” will include access to the rest of the museum. Dates and ticketing information will be announced closer to the exhibition opening.
About the Artist
Kusama was born in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, in 1929, and works at her studio in Tokyo. She studied traditional Nihonga (Japanese-style) painting in Kyoto and moved to New York City in 1958. There, she was active in avant-garde circles during the formative years of Pop art and Minimalism, exhibiting her work alongside such artists as Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg and Allan Kaprow — figures who have cited Kusama as influential to the development of assemblage, environmental art and performative practices.
Kusama exhibited widely in Italy, Germany and the Netherlands in the mid-’60s, participating in exhibitions with artists associated with Nul, Zero and the New Tendency in Europe, where she began developing her interest in the optics and interactive elements of mirrors, electric lights, sound and kinetics.
Kusama’s fame grew in the late 1960s through her radical anti-war happenings, which espoused nudity and polka dots in the streets of New York. Because of ongoing struggles with her health, Kusama returned to Japan in 1973, where she has since resided. In recent years, Kusama has achieved celebrity status as well as tremendous critical respect.
For more information, visit http://thebroad.org/art/special-exhibitions/yayoi-kusama-infinity-mirrors.
About The Broad
The Broad is a new contemporary art museum built by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad on Grand Avenue in Downtown Los Angeles. The museum, which is designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler, opened Sept. 20, 2015 with free general admission. The museum is home to the nearly 2,000 works of art in the Broad collection, which is among the most prominent holdings of postwar and contemporary art worldwide.
With its innovative “veil-and-vault” concept, the 120,000-square-foot, $140-million building features two floors of gallery space to showcase The Broad’s comprehensive collection and is the headquarters of The Broad Art Foundation’s worldwide lending library. For more information on The Broad and to sign up for updates, visit http://thebroad.org.