Yoko...O, no!!! Yayoi Kusama!!!


Yayoi Kusama in Yellow Tree furniture room at Aich triennale, Nagoya, Japan, 2010. Collection Yayoi Kusama. Image courtesy Yayoi Kusma Studio Inc.; Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo; Victoria Miro Gallery, London; and Gagosian Gallery New York

The opening reception last night at the Whitney was a full-house and that's an understatement.  Her current collaboration with fashion power-house Louis Vuitton attracted a huge crowd from both the fashion and the art world to this Yayoi Kusama exhibition.

Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929), Fireflies on the Water, 2002. Mirror, plexiglass, 150 lights and water, 111 × 144 1/2 × 144 1/2 in. (281.9 × 367 × 367 cm) overall. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Postwar Committee and the Contemporary Painting and Sculpture Committee and partial gift of Betsy Wittenborn Miller 2003.322a-tttttttt. © Yayoi Kusama. Photograph courtesy Robert Miller Gallery

"This is infinity...and you are curious?", the piece pictured above was the biggest attraction of the night. People stood in a long-line and for a very long time while risking the chance of not able to get a drink and have time enough to enjoy the life of the party in the mezzanine. "Admirable", only Kusama has this kind of power and appeal over the masses-which is to say that seeing art should feel far more fun than a drink and a party of fancy people.

Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929), Self-Obliteration (Net Obsession Series), c. 1966. Photocollage on paper, 8 × 10 in. (20.3 × 25.4 cm). Collection of the artist. © Yayoi Kusama. Image courtesy Yayoi Kusama Studio Inc.; Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo; Victoria Miro Gallery, London. Photograph by Hal Reiff. © Hal Reiff

The exhibition unveils a large collection of works of which are still under the ownership of the artist, such as the sexy photo above and numerous paintings and prints that range from her earlier works that mimicked strongly the Western esthetics in terms of visual composition and sensibilities to the more evolved "trade-marked" Kusama that you are more likely to be able to purchase at Louis Vuitton in the forms of handbags, shoes, accessories and other small expensive leather items.

Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929), Fish, 1953. Ink, watercolor, and pastel on paper, 8 7/8 × 11 5/8 in. (22.5 × 29.5 cm). Collection of the artist. © Yayoi Kusama. Image courtesy Yayoi Kusama Studio Inc.; Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo; Victoria Miro Gallery, London

Kusama in Dots Obsession, Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, 2011. Collection Yayoi Kusama. Image courtesy Yayoi Kusma Studio Inc.; Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo; Victoria Miro Gallery, London; and Gagosian Gallery New York


A detail of a painting in the exhibition; photo taken by me

Obsession is what makes Kusama so intriguing for most of the viewers. Obsession in details of visual arrangements of colors and shapes that all amount to eye-blinding optical experiences.  Here, Kusama is not necessary asking the viewers as to study every bit of details in her applications but more of asking them to stand aback in order to take in full of the visual grandeur of the overall effect.

Kusama at age 10, 1939. Collection of Yayoi Kusama. Image courtesy Yayoi Kusama Studio Inc.; Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo; Victoria Miro Gallery, London
Kusama at Bust Out Happening at Sheep Meadow in Central Park, 1969. Collection Yayoi Kusama. Image courtesy Yayoi Kusama Studio Inc.; Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo; Victoria Miro Gallery, London

What makes this exhibition different from other major retrospectives of "maturely established" artists is that this one seems to present Kusama's personal history and biography from when she was a little girl; for example as a child among a family group portrait, to posters and gallery invitations of her exhibitions in the past of which all collected personally by the artist.  Strongly influenced by O'Keeffe, there are personal correspondences of letters between the two artists as part of this exhibition.

Even though, in more recent works, the amounts of delicate details seem to have enlarged in terms of shapes and forms if were to be isolated as single elements apart from the overall.  Nonetheless, the optical illusion has not ceased its initial awe and grandeur in terms of the overall composition.  Besides, I think these would make excellent scarves to adorn one's personal appearance.

To catch this exhibition, visit the Whitney before September 30th.

Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929), Late-night Chat is Filled with Dreams, 2009. Acrylic on canvas, 63 3/4 × 63 3/4 in. (162 × 162 cm). Collection of the artist. © Yayoi Kusama. Image courtesy Yayoi Kusama Studio Inc.; Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo; Victoria Miro Gallery, London

Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929), An Encounter with a Flowering Season, 2009. Acrylic on canvas, 51 5/16 × 63 3/4 in. (130.3 × 162 cm). Collection of the artist. © Yayoi Kusama. Image courtesy Yayoi Kusama Studio Inc.; Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo; Victoria Miro Gallery, London

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