How Yayoi Kusama Ended Up Selling Out the Glass House

It has been years in the making.

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Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Polka Dots (2016) at the Philip Johnson Glass House. Courtesy of artnet News.
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Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Polka Dots (2016) at the Philip Johnson Glass House. Courtesy of artnet News.
Yayoi Kusama
Shum pointed out that Kusama's "illusion of surface" is activated in other areas of the room like the glass table. "I wanted it to be an artist's project," she said. Caption: Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Polka Dots (2016) at the Philip Johnson Glass House. Courtesy of artnet News.
Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Polka Dots (2016) at the Philip Johnson Glass House. Courtesy of artnet News.
Yayoi Kusama
By nightfall, outdoor lights that line the perimeter keep the installation alive. Caption: Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Polka Dots (2016) at the Philip Johnson Glass House. Courtesy of artnet News.
Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Polka Dots (2016) at the Philip Johnson Glass House. Courtesy of artnet News.
Yayoi Kusama
The true gem of the site is the very project that Shum initially planned. Narcissus Garden sits below in the property's lower meadow on an artificial pond fed by a natural stream. Afloat, these 1,300 steel orbs, which each weigh less than a pound, sway with the wind across the water's surface. In its initial run at the 33rd Venice Biennale in 1966, Kusama famously placed 1,500 plastic silver globes on the Italian Pavilion's outdoor lawn. Caption: Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Polka Dots (2016) at the Philip Johnson Glass House. Courtesy of artnet News.
Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Polka Dots (2016) at the Philip Johnson Glass House. Courtesy of artnet News.
Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Polka Dots (2016) at the Philip Johnson Glass House. Courtesy of artnet News.
Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Polka Dots (2016) at the Philip Johnson Glass House. Courtesy of artnet News.
Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Polka Dots (2016) at the Philip Johnson Glass House. Courtesy of artnet News.

Philip Johnson’s Glass House, which sits just around the bend on a short, rolling path in New Canaan, Connecticut, now features Yayoi Kusama‘s signature dots. The visual oddity is as striking as one imagines red polka dot stickers plastered on minimalist mid-century architecture would be.

artnet News took a private tour of the grounds last Wednesday with curator Irene Shum. Shum told us that the process of securing Kusama’s participation started in 2014, when she set out to bring Narcissus Garden (1966) to the Glass House. At the time, Shum had high hopes for what was then an impending confluence of anniversaries: this year marks the 110th anniversary of the architect’s birth and the 10th anniversary of the Glass House’s opening.

Following a series of conversations with OTA Fine Arts and David Zwirner Gallery, which represents the artist, Kusama agreed to show her Narcissus Garden, and offered to install two other works: Infinity Polka Dots, the low-tack “Pepsi-red” adhesives that line the Glass House, and Steel Pumpkin, a sizable sculpture that sits across the way on the structure’s lawn.

That the Glass House was able to secure Kusama’s involvement is doubtless an achievement for the estate—thanks in no small part to Shum. In fact, Kusama’s popularity has already paid off. Communications director Christa Carr noted that appointments for tours, which would set you back anywhere from $25 to $250 depending on the package, had quickly sold out. Those planning a visit needn’t worry, though, as additional tours are underway.

Yayoi Kusama: Dots Obsession—Alive, Seeking for Eternal Hope” will be on view at Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut through September 26, 2016. Narcissus Garden + Pumpkin is on view through November 30, 2016.


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