I went to theYayoi Kusamaexhibit at the Hirshhorn Museum a few weeks ago and it was amazing. Here are a few pictures of one of my favorite installations, the Obliteration Room. This is the end of the exhibit, and everyone is given polka dots to place in the room before leaving.
‘Our earth is only one polka dot among a million stars in the cosmos. Polka dots are a way to infinity. When we obliterate nature and our bodies with polka dots, we become part of the unity of our environment.’ - Yayoi Kusama // more pictures + info to come on this artist & my visit.
Ever wondered how Agnes Martin balanced perfection and imperfection in her gridded compositions, why Jackson Pollock was dubbed “Jack the Dripper,” how Mark Rothko sought to make viewers cry, or what a Willem de Kooning painting sounds like? Sign up for “In the Studio: Postwar Abstract Painting,” MoMA’s newest free online course—now open for enrollment at mo.ma/coursera.
This course welcomes anyone to tap into the processes, materials, and minds of seven New York School artists including Martin, Pollock, Rothko, de Kooning and Barnett Newman, Ad Reinhardt, and Yayoi Kusama. Combining studio techniques, visual analysis, and art historical insight, it offers an opportunity to experience postwar abstract painting from an artist’s point of view.
Thanks to @vw for helping to bring MoMA Courses to learners all over world!
Yayoi Kusama, a Japanese artist and writer, created the “garden” in 1966 which was then shown in the 33rd Venice Biennale. The installation holds 1,500 metallic balls that reflect and distort the landscape around them as well as the person who views them. During the opening week, Kusama placed two signs at the installation. The first sign read “NARCISSUS GARDEN, KUSAMA” while the other said “YOUR NARCISSISM FOR SALE”. While wearing a gold kimono and emphasizing her “otherness” of being an artist from Japan making an entrance into the American art scene she acted as a street peddler and went around selling the balls to anyone willing to buy them for $2. She also distributed flyers with complimentary remarks about her work from Herbert Read, an art critic and co-founder of the Institute of Contemporary Arts
The Biennale officials eventually stepped in and put and end to her “side-business” but the installation remained.
The recreation of Narcissus Garden via commissions and re-installations in various other places has killed its original intention of criticizing the narcissism that Kusama was addressing in a post-WWII America. While the installation was originally made as an interactive performance between the artist and the viewer, the installation and mirror balls themselves are put into high value and are now regarded as decorations with hefty price tags and worth.