Art-World ‘Inception’: Yayoi Kusama Puts an Infinity Room Inside an Infinity Room, Blowing Minds Forever

Kusama goes to infinity—and beyond.

Yayoi Kusama, INFINITY MIRRORED ROOM: LET'S SURVIVE TOGETHER (2017) at David Zwirner, New York. Courtesy of Sarah Cascone.
Yayoi Kusama, INFINITY MIRRORED ROOM: LET'S SURVIVE TOGETHER (2017) at David Zwirner, New York. Courtesy of Sarah Cascone.

Yayoi Kusama‘s obsession with reflections reaches another level at New York’s David Zwirner, where she has unveiled two new kaleidoscopic “Infinity Mirror Rooms.” The Japanese artist’s mirrored installations have become international sensations, attracting around-the-block lines in Asia, Europe, South America, and the US.

“She’s an artist who makes work that can be looked at, but also can be experienced,” David Zwirner told artnet News at the exhibition’s press preview. He gave Kusama the dubious distinction of having been “the original gangster” behind the interactive, selfie-friendly work that now populates the Instagram feeds of art lovers the world over.

One of Kusama’s new installations ups the ante by placing an Infinity Room within an Infinity Room. Never one for moderation, the Japanese artist has installed a mirrored rectangular column inside a mirrored installation. If you peer through the holes of the column, you can see a seemingly endless array of steel orbs extending in every direction. The installation is the sculptural equivalent of Inception‘s dream-within-a-dream sequence.

Unlike many of her earlier Infinity Rooms, in which the viewer is confined to a platform, you are free to wander around the larger room, examining the shiny balls hanging from the ceiling and piled on the floor. (We suggest you do so with care—we don’t want another incident like the smashed Kusama pumpkin.)

The artist previously used similar reflective spheres in Narcissus Garden, an outdoor installation shown at the Venice Biennale in 1966 and at the Glass House in Connecticut in 2016. “It creates a dialogue with her more minimal early work from the 1960s,” Zwirner said.

Yayoi Kusama, <em>LONGING FOR ETERNITY</em> (2017) at David Zwirner, New York. Courtesy of Sarah Cascone.

Yayoi Kusama, LONGING FOR ETERNITY (2017) at David Zwirner, New York. Courtesy of Sarah Cascone.

Installing the piece “came down to the wire,” the dealer admitted. Kusama’s studio team flew in from Japan for the week to work on it, only finishing late last night.

The second new Infinity Mirror Room is a peephole room, LONGING FOR ETERNITY, where viewers can peer in on a field of flashing lights, an infinite geometric grid in ever shifting colors.

Yayoi Kusama, LONGING FOR ETERNITY (2017) at David Zwirner, New York. Courtesy of Sarah Cascone.

Yayoi Kusama, LONGING FOR ETERNITY (2017) at David Zwirner, New York. Courtesy of Sarah Cascone.

To see either piece, expect to wait. If Zwirner’s 2015 show of Kusama’s The Obliteration Room—an interactive, polka-dotted living room—is any indication, there will be lines out the door for the duration of the show.

The exhibition at Zwirner’s Chelsea location is one of two opening today in New York. Uptown, at East 69th Street, you can see works from her “Infinity Nets” paintings series. Four of her paintings are also on view at the Judd Foundation through December 2.

Yayoi Kusama, Infinity-Nets [XSHTQ], (2017). Image © Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York; Ota Fine Arts,Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai; Victoria Miro, London; YAYOI KUSAMA Inc.

Yayoi Kusama, Infinity-Nets [XSHTQ], (2017). Image © Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York; Ota Fine Arts,Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai; Victoria Miro, London; YAYOI KUSAMA Inc.

Though at first glance this series may seem totally divorced from the intergalactic magic of Kusama’s mirrored environments, the canvases, filled with countless rounded daubs of thickly applied paint, reflect the same obsessive nature—which makes sense, considering that the artist has described her work as an attempt to document her hallucinations. (Having struggled with mental illness her entire life, Kusama has lived in a Tokyo psychiatric hospital since 1977.) She has said she once stayed awake for 50 hours straight painting dots without a break.

The Chelsea show also marks the US debut of With All My Love for the Tulips, I Pray Forever (2011), a white room and three large tulip sculptures decorated with the artist’s signature polka dots in bright red. “We always wanted to show it,” Zwirner said. “I wanted a piece that you can very easily walk through because there is so much lines and waiting!”

See more photos from the exhibition below.

Yayoi Kusama, It's Me Who Is Crying Out, (2013). Image © Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York; Ota Fine Arts,Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai;Victoria Miro, London; YAYOI KUSAMA Inc.

Yayoi Kusama, It’s Me Who Is Crying Out, (2013). Image © Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York; Ota Fine Arts,Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai;Victoria Miro, London; YAYOI KUSAMA Inc.

Yayoi Kusama, Installation view, Yayoi Kusama: Festival of Life, David Zwirner, New York (2017). Image © Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York; Ota Fine Arts,Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai; Victoria Miro, London; YAYOI KUSAMA Inc.

Yayoi Kusama, Installation view, Yayoi Kusama: Festival of Life, David Zwirner, New York (2017). Image © Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York; Ota Fine Arts,Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai; Victoria Miro, London; YAYOI KUSAMA Inc.

Yayoi Kusama, Infinity-Nets [WFCOT], (2017). Image © Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York; Ota Fine Arts,Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai; Victoria Miro, London; YAYOI KUSAMA Inc.

Yayoi Kusama, Infinity-Nets [WFCOT], (2017). Image © Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York; Ota Fine Arts,Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai; Victoria Miro, London; YAYOI KUSAMA Inc.

Yayoi Kusama, Human Beauty of Smiles, (2015). Image © Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York; Ota Fine Arts,Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai;Victoria Miro, London; YAYOI KUSAMA Inc.

Yayoi Kusama, Human Beauty of Smiles, (2015). Image © Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York; Ota Fine Arts,Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai;Victoria Miro, London; YAYOI KUSAMA Inc.

Yayoi Kusama, I Want To Live At The Far End of The Universe, (2016). Image © Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York; Ota Fine Arts,Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai; Victoria Miro, London; YAYOI KUSAMA Inc.

Yayoi Kusama, I Want To Live At The Far End of The Universe, (2016). Image © Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York; Ota Fine Arts,Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai; Victoria Miro, London; YAYOI KUSAMA Inc.

Yayoi Kusama, With All My Love For The Tulips, I Pray Forever (2011). © Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York; Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore; Victoria Miro, London; KUSAMA Enterprise.

Yayoi Kusama, With All My Love For The Tulips, I Pray Forever (2011). © Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York; Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai; Victoria Miro, London; YAYOI KUSAMA Inc.

Yayoi Kusama, Dwelling Of Love, (2016). Image © Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York; Ota Fine Arts,Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai; Victoria Miro, London; YAYOI KUSAMA Inc.

Yayoi Kusama, Dwelling Of Love, (2016). Image © Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York; Ota Fine Arts,Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai; Victoria Miro, London; YAYOI KUSAMA Inc.

Yayoi Kusama, Infinity-Nets [PQBME], (2017). Image © Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York; Ota Fine Arts,Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai; Victoria Miro, London; YAYOI KUSAMA Inc.

Yayoi Kusama, Infinity-Nets [PQBME], (2017). Image © Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York; Ota Fine Arts,Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai; Victoria Miro, London; YAYOI KUSAMA Inc.

Festival of Life and Infinity Nets” are on view at David Zwirner, 525 and 533 West 19th Street and 34 East 69th Street, November 2–December 16, 2017.


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