Yayoi Kusama’s Dazzling Infinity Rooms

Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama has captivated the minds of art lovers with her famous “infinity rooms”. Kusama has described her infinity rooms as tools for tearing down the self. “By obliterating one’s individual self, one returns to the infinite universe.”

GOMA - Yayoi Kusama, Soul under the moon, 2002. Mirrors, ultra violet lights, water, plastic, nylon thread, timber, synthetic polymer paint.
GOMA – Yayoi Kusama, Soul under the moon, 2002. Mirrors, ultra violet lights, water, plastic, nylon thread, timber, synthetic polymer paint.

Yayoi Kusama‘s work often obsessively repeats motifs such as patterns of polka-dots or the reflected lights in her entitled “Infinity Mirror Room”.

Infinity Mirror Room envelops viewers in a seemingly endless world of multicolored lights handing from LEDs. The lights flicker on and off, creating a sense of time both suspended and endless.

Infinity Mirror Room
Infinity Mirror Room

Kusama has made different versions of the infinity room and it’s been an instant crowd pleaser whenever it’s been shown. The bears love it 🙂 If you have a spare room in the house, and a spare million dollars, you can have your own infinity room at home. Don’t tell the bears!

Soul under the moon
Infinity Mirror Room
Soul under the moon
Infinity Mirror Room

Lighted orbs, hanging at various heights, turn on and off in repetitive patterns.

Soul under the moon
Infinity Mirror Room

Love is Calling features glowing tentacle-like structures that burst from the mirrored room’s floor and ceiling and change colors as a recording of Kusama recites Japanese poems.

Love is Calling
Love is Calling
Love is Calling
Love is Calling
Love is Calling
Love is Calling
Love is Calling
Love is Calling
Artist Yayoi Kusama in 2013
Artist Yayoi Kusama in 2013

If an infinity room comes to a museum near you, go and see it!

Born in Matsumoto, Japan in 1929, Yayoi Kusama began her artistic education at the Kyoto School of Arts and Crafts. There, she studied Nihonga, a style of formal, traditional Japanese painting that emerged in the Meiji period (1868–1912). Following six solo exhibitions in Japan during her early artistic career, Kusama moved to New York in 1958, inspired by the rise of Abstract Expressionism in the United States. She was one of the first Japanese artists of her generation to make this move, and her early mobility, combined with her openly acknowledged history of mental illness, contributed to a highly visible, eccentric public persona.

Since her first solo show in her native Japan in 1952, the artist’s work has been featured widely in both solo and group presentations. In the mid-1960s, she established herself in New York as an important avant-garde artist by staging groundbreaking and influential happenings, events, and exhibitions. Kusama began a series that she referred to as Infinity Nets, an important body of work that encompasses paintings, soft sculptures, collages, films, and installations. Her acclaimed all-white, patterned, and monochromatic Infinity Nets paintings allude to the artist’s hallucinations of being overcome by endless netting. The paintings’ minutely rendered and repetitive forms are invisible when viewed at a distance, inviting the viewer to approach and experience an individual, private interaction. The series, which shares some stylistic features with the work of the then, emerging American Pop and Minimal art movements and European groups such as Zero, quickly brought Kusama to the attention of the New York avant-garde, and won her the recognition of artists such as Donald Judd, with whom she developed a close friendship.

Yayoi Kusama White Infinity Nets
Yayoi Kusama White Infinity Nets

In the early 1960s she began to create large-scale, immersive installations called Accumulations that feature objects covered with white, phallic protrusions; these projects presaged Claes Oldenburg’s soft sculptures and aspects of American Pop art. She also staged provocative Happenings that involved the artist painting polka dots on participants’ bodies. Kusama appropriated the polka dot as her signature symbol, and has used it throughout her prolific career, which spans collage, drawing, fashion, film, installation, painting, performance, poetry, and sculpture.

Dots Obsession
Dots Obsession

Yayoi Kusama's Dazzling Infinity Rooms

The Dots Obsession reached Louis Vuitton as well. In 2012, Louis Vuitton unveiled seven Louis Vuitton-Yayoi Kusama concept stores around the world. The Louis Vuitton-Yayoi Kusama collection features the most extensive collaboration to date; with a full collection consisting of ready-to-wear, leather goods, accessories – such as textiles and sunglasses, shoes, a watch, a charm as well as book editions.

Louis Vuitton - Yayoi Kusama Concept Store, Singapore
Louis Vuitton – Yayoi Kusama Concept Store, Singapore

The concept store in Singapore is inspired by “nerves”: the biomorphic shaped sculptures which are one of Yayoi Kusama’s most iconic artworks. The store design includes large scales and vivid colours, all in Kusama’s iconic red and white, and covered with red polka dots, which reflect Kusama’s obsession with the idea of accumulation.

Louis Vuitton - Yayoi Kusama Concept Store, Singapore
Louis Vuitton – Yayoi Kusama Concept Store, Singapore
Louis Vuitton - Yayoi Kusama Concept Store, Singapore
Louis Vuitton – Yayoi Kusama Concept Store, Singapore
Louis Vuitton - Yayoi Kusama Concept Store, SoHo
Louis Vuitton – Yayoi Kusama Concept Store, SoHo
Louis Vuitton - Yayoi Kusama Concept Store, Selfridges
Louis Vuitton – Yayoi Kusama Concept Store, Selfridges
Yayoi Kusama in the Louis Vuitton - Yayoi Kusama Concept Store, Selfridges
Yayoi Kusama in the Louis Vuitton – Yayoi Kusama Concept Store, Selfridges

Kusama was recently named the world’s most popular artist by various news outlets, based on annual figures reported by The Art Newspaper for global museum attendance in 2014. Her exhibitions were the most visited worldwide last year, with three major museum presentations simultaneously traveling through Japan, Asia, and Central and South America — all of which have drawn record-breaking attendances at every venue. You have to be prepared to queue for the timed visit to an Infinity Room. The bears, of course, didn’t have to, being celebrity bears and all 🙂

Work by the artist is held in museum collections worldwide, including the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Tate Gallery, London; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; amongst numerous others. Kusama lives and works in Tokyo.

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