Pioneering artist Yayoi Kusama is once again capturing audiences and social media in the current exhibit “One with Eternity” at Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C. which runs until Nov. 27.
The famed artist from Japan just marked her 93rd birthday and the exhibit highlights more than 70 years of her work in a few select pieces, including two recently-acquired Infinity Mirror Rooms that are now part of the Hirshhorn’s permanent collection.
When the Hirshhorn held a larger exhibit of Kusama’s infinity mirrors in 2017, nearly half a million people beared the long lines to get a chance to stand in these intimate spaces alone for just a few seconds. Attendance to the museum doubled that year to 1.2 million. The mirrored rooms were the perfect backdrop for selfies that spangled social media accounts around the world.
The current exhibit shows “Infinity Mirror Room—Phalli’s Field (Floor Show)”, a 2017 reimagining of her 1965 installation and one of her newer pieces: “Infinity Mirrored Room—My Heart Is Dancing into the Universe” (2018). Visitors get 30 seconds to take in each room before they are ushered out.
Also on view are an early painting “The Hill” (1953), “Flowers—Overcoat” (1964) and “Pumpkin” (2016).
DECADES OF CREATING
Born in Nagano, Japan, Kusama studied traditional Japanese painting before moving to New York City in 1958, where she was active in the avant-garde movement.
Her work was shown in the U.S. and Europe alongside artists such as Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg — some have argued even plagiarized by them.
In the late 1960s she participated in radical antiwar “Happenings” featuring nudity and polka dots.
In 1973 she returned to Japan and later checked herself into a Tokyo hospital for the mentally ill, where she still lives. The nonagenarian travels from the hospital each day to her nearby studioe and continues to produce new works each day.
Art has been her salvation, she has said.
“I fight pain, anxiety, and fear every day, and the only method I have found that relieved my illness is to keep creating art. I followed the thread of art and somehow discovered a path that would allow me to live,” she said in an interview with Infinity Net.
Throughout her long career she has worked in countless mediums including acrylics, sculpture, lights, sound, and kinetics. She has been a performance artist and has published novels, poetry and an autobiography. In the last two decades she created 20 mirror rooms of various themes all centered on the idea of infinity.
Art historians have said that her work is as much an exercise in self-healing to calm her erratic thoughts, as it is creating vehicles that transport audiences to another sphere of place and time.
HOW TO VISIT
Free same-day timed passes will be available on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 9:30 a.m. outside the museum’s plaza for visitors 12 and up. Timed passes are required for the Kusuma exhibit, but not to visit the museum. Members of the museum can book timed passes online. Visitors are encouraged to use the museum’s app, Hirshhorn Eye to see artist insights into the collection and Kusuma’s career.