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“Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

On view until May 14 at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors”— Washington, D.C.’s first Yayoi Kusama exhibit, and the artist’s largest show in North American in nearly two decades.

Outside the museum, visitors can already see Kusama’s engaging work—large red polka dots are seen in the museum’s upper floor windows, and perched on the lawn is her recognizable Pumpkin (2016) sculpture. First inspired as a child by her family’s seed nursey in pre-war Japan, Kusama has adored pumpkins for their humble and amusing energy. “Pumpkins bring about poetic piece in my mind,” she has said.

Dots Obsession—Love Transformed into Dots.
Courtesy of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

The exhibition includes six of her “Infinity Mirrors” installations, including the most recent, All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins (2016). Also on view is an array of other key works, including some of Kusama’s first polka dot pieces first seen in New York in the 1960s, and paintings from her “My Eternal Soul” series, shown for the first time in the U.S.

Infinity Mirror Room—Phalli’s Field, the originator for the “Infinity Mirrors” series, is filled with stuffed cotton fabric tubers, board, and mirrors. Infinity Mirrored Room—The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away is a dark room with cool-colored LED lights that shimmer and reflect against a wood, mirror, plastic, acrylic, and aluminum interior. Infinity Mirrored Rooms—All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins is made up of black and yellow spotted LED pumpkins, similar to her first installation like this seen in 1991, and later displayed at the 1993 at the Venice Biennale. Dots Obsession—Love Transformed into Dots is a multi-part installation that covers the exhibition’s main area in pink inflatables with black dots, a video playing of Kusama singing one of her poems, an infinity room with similarly spotted inflatables, and a smaller version of it in a tiny micro-space seen through a peephole.

Dots Obsession—Love Transformed into Dots.
Courtesy of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Like the smaller scale version of the peek-in installation in Dots Obsession—Love Transformed into Dots, is Infinity Mirrored Room—Love Forever focused on civil rights, sexual liberation, and the anti-war movement. The small hexagonal structure with a mirrored interior has two peepholes, and the lighting create a sculptural and performative installation activated by audience participation.

The exhibition also presents large sculptural works like Violet Obsession (1994), Arm Chair (1963), Accumulation (1962-1964), and A Snake (1974); sculptural works made of stuffed cotton, kapok, and wood hung on the walls like Blue Spots (1965), Red Stripes (1965), and Ennui (1976); paintings like M.A.M. Egg (1954/1963), Hidden Flames (1956), and Infinity Nets Yellow (1960)—the premise of her “Infinity Mirrors” exhibition; and a selection of playful stand-up sculptures like My Adolescence in Bloom (2014), Unfolding Buds (2015), and Welcoming the Joyful Season (2014).

“Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors.”
Courtesy of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

And for those Instagram-ready visitors, the show includes her much-loved The Obliteration Room. Upon entering, guests are given a selection of colorful dot stickers, and the white room full of white furniture ahead awaits the stick-on obliteration created by its short-term occupants.

 

Infinity Mirrored Room—All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins.
Courtesy of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

After the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the exhibition will travel to the Seattle Art Museum (June 30–Sept 10), The Broad, (Oct 21, 2017–Jan 1, 2018), Art Gallery of Ontario (March 3–May 27, 2018), and the Cleveland Museum of Art (July 9–Sept 30, 2018), and the High Museum of Art (Nov 18, 2018–Feb 17, 2019).

 

Infinity Mirrored Room—Love Forever.
Courtesy of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

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Kelly Wearstler

THE WINTER EXPERIENCE ISSUE
2023

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