Put Your Phone Down... Or Not... Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors at the Hirshhorn Museum

Put Your Phone Down... Or Not... Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors at the Hirshhorn Museum

Yayoi Kusama with recent works in Tokyo, 2016 Photo by Tomoaki Makino Courtesy of the artist © Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama with recent works in Tokyo, 2016 Photo by Tomoaki Makino
Courtesy of the artist © Yayoi Kusama

Installation view of Infinity Mirror Room—Phalli’s Field,1965, in Floor Show, Castellane Gallery, New York, 1965. Sewn stuffed cotton fabric, board, and mirrors Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore; Victoria Miro, London; David Zwirner, New York. © Yayoi Kusama Photo: Eikoh Hosoe

Installation view of Infinity Mirror Room—Phalli’s Field,1965, in Floor Show, Castellane Gallery, New York, 1965. Sewn stuffed cotton fabric, board, and mirrors
Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore; Victoria Miro, London; David Zwirner, New York. © Yayoi Kusama Photo: Eikoh Hosoe

Timed tickets to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s latest retrospective exhibition, Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors, are few and far between for DC residents and visitors alike. Those lucky enough to find a ticket will have the unparalleled experience of viewing six Infinity Mirror Rooms, as well as some of the most recent paintings by the celebrated Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama.

Kusama’s extensive career spanning six decades includes works of sculpture, painting, film, experimental happenings, and her most widely recognized Infinity Mirror Room installations. The artist’s practice is multi-faceted and for most of her life has served as a form of healing for mental illness. Polka dots, now synonymous with Kusama’s work, for example came to her in a hallucination. The Infinity Mirror Rooms cause viewers to pause and experience the over-the-top boundlessness of the mirrored room. While you are only allotted 30 seconds in the rooms, if you pause, just like the physical space, the time spent can feel immeasurable.

Infinity Nets Yellow, 1960. Oil paint on canvas, 94 1/2 x 116 in. (240 x 294.6 cm)  National Gallery of Art, Washington. Gift of the Collectors Committee (2002.37.1). © Yayoi Kusama

Infinity Nets Yellow, 1960. Oil paint on canvas, 94 1/2 x 116 in. (240 x 294.6 cm) 
National Gallery of Art, Washington. Gift of the Collectors Committee (2002.37.1). © Yayoi Kusama

Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, 2013 Wood, metal, glass mirrors, plastic, acrylic panel, rubber, LED lighting system, acrylic balls, and water, 113 1/4 x 163 1/2 x 163 1/2 in.  Courtesy of David Zwirner, N.Y. © Yayoi Kusama

Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, 2013
Wood, metal, glass mirrors, plastic, acrylic panel, rubber, LED lighting system, acrylic balls, and water, 113 1/4 x 163 1/2 x 163 1/2 in. 
Courtesy of David Zwirner, N.Y. © Yayoi Kusama

If you cannot stomach the long lines for the mirrored rooms, Kusama’s sculpture and painting are on view throughout the Hirshhorn’s galleries. These works include sculptures and three-dimensional work on canvas with phallic protrusions from the '60s and '70s and new brightly-colored paintings from 2015 and 2016, not yet shown in the US.

Installation view of Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, 2017. Left to right: Ennui, 1976; Accumulation, 1962-64; Red Stripes, 1965; Arm Chair, 1963 Photo by Cathy Carver

Installation view of Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, 2017. Left to right: Ennui, 1976; Accumulation, 1962-64; Red Stripes, 1965; Arm Chair, 1963
Photo by Cathy Carver

Installation view of Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, 2017. Left to right: Blue Spots, 1965; Flowers – Overcoat, 1964; A Snake, 1974; Ennui, 1976; Accumulation, 1962-64; Red Stripes, 1965; Arm Chair, 1963 Photo by Cathy Carver

Installation view of Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, 2017. Left to right: Blue Spots, 1965; Flowers – Overcoat, 1964; A Snake, 1974; Ennui, 1976; Accumulation, 1962-64; Red Stripes, 1965; Arm Chair, 1963
Photo by Cathy Carver

In the month since the exhibition opened there has been a pointed focus on the Hirshhorn’s blunders. Issues such as the lack of crowd control and the selfie obsession which led to the destruction of a pumpkin in the 2016 Infinity Mirror Room, All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, have dominated the exhibition’s media coverage. Given the recent attack on the arts, the excitement surrounding this exhibition is encouraging. Whether visitors go to view Inifinity Mirrors for a killer Instagram post or to fully immerse themselves in the artist’s mind, the hope is that they will, in Kusama’s own words, “obliterate themselves".

Installation view of Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, 2017 . Left to right: Living on the Yellow Land, 2015; My Adolescence in Bloom, 2014; Welcoming the Joyful Season, 2014; Surrounded by Heartbeats, 2014; Unfolding Buds, 2015; Story After Death, 2014. Photo by Cathy Carver

Installation view of Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, 2017 . Left to right: Living on the Yellow Land, 2015; My Adolescence in Bloom, 2014; Welcoming the Joyful Season, 2014; Surrounded by Heartbeats, 2014; Unfolding Buds, 2015; Story After Death, 2014. Photo by Cathy Carver

All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, 2016, at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Wood, mirror, plastic, black glass, LED Collection of the artist. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo / Singapore and Victoria Miro, London. © Yayoi Kusama 

All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, 2016, at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Wood, mirror, plastic, black glass, LED
Collection of the artist. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo / Singapore and Victoria Miro, London. © Yayoi Kusama 

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors will be on view at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. through May 14, 2017.

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