Can Yayoi Kusama Make the Rockaways This Summer’s Viral Art Destination? Klaus Biesenbach Hopes So

Get ready for the next unstoppable selfie sensation.

Narcissus Garden by artist Yayoi Kusama adorns the garden pond of Chatsworth House in 2009, Chatsworth, England. Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images.
Narcissus Garden by artist Yayoi Kusama adorns the garden pond of Chatsworth House in 2009, Chatsworth, England. Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images.

The Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama‘s reflective Narcissus Garden, which she first showed at the Venice Biennale in 1966, is set to open in the Rockaways on July 1. The work, which is comprised of 1,500 mirrored, stainless steel orbs, will be installed in a former train garage at New York’s Fort Tilden, a former US military base on the beach.

Kusama’s Narcissus Garden was also on view at Philip Johnson’s Glass House in 2016 and at England’s Chatsworth House in 2009. But Biesenbach told the New York Times that the upcoming installation in the Rockaways “will look very, very different than before.”

Fort Tilden Building at Gateway National Recreation Area. <br>Site of Yayoi Kusama’s <i>Narcissus Garden</i> for "Rockaway!" (2018). Image courtesy MoMA PS1. Photo: Pablo Enriquez.

Fort Tilden building at Gateway National Recreation Area.
Site of Yayoi Kusama’s Narcissus Garden for “Rockaway!” (2018). Photo by Pablo Enriquez, courtesy of MoMA PS1.

The mirrored surfaces will reflect the industrial surroundings of the now abandoned military building, “drawing attention to Fort Tilden’s history as well as the devastating damage inflicted on many buildings in the area by Hurricane Sandy in 2012,” said a statement from MoMA PS1.

Kusama’s installation marks the third iteration of “Rockaway!” a free annual arts festival spearheaded by MoMA PS1 director Klaus Biesenbach, and presented with the Rockaway Artists Alliance, Jamaica-Bay-Rockaways Parks Conservancy, the National Park Service, and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Previous projects included Patti Smith’s Resilience of the Dreamer in 2014 and Katharina Grosse‘s Rockaway Colors, both of which became viral social media sensations. (Originally intended to last one season, Rockaway Colors, which saw Grosse spray paint an abandoned Army aquatics facility in pink and red, was torn down this past winter.)

Beach goers can likely expect even bigger crowds and more Instagram immersion with Kusama, whose “Infinity Rooms” and other eye-catching mirror and polka-dot installations consistently draw hordes of fans. Last winter 75,000 people saw Kusama’s show at David Zwirner Gallery in New York, while her exhibitions at the Seattle Art Museum and the Broad Museum in Los Angeles broke attendance records.

Narcissus Garden by Yayoi Kusama. Venice Biennale 1966 ©YAYOI KUSAMA. Courtesy David Zwirner, New York; Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai; Victoria Miro, London/Venice.

Narcissus Garden by Yayoi Kusama. Venice Biennale 1966. ©YAYOI KUSAMA. Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York; Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai; Victoria Miro, London/Venice.

Kusama also remains one of the highest-priced female artists on the market. The top price paid for the artist’s work at auction is $7.1 million, at Christie’s New York in November 2014, for White No. 28 (1960). The second highest-selling work at auction is just a fraction under that, at $7.03 million, paid for NO. RED B (1960) at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in November 2015.

To date, 79 of Kusama’s works have sold for more than $1 million each at auction, according to the artnet Price Database.


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