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Phalli’s Field: Sewn stuffed cotton fabric, board, and mirrors

Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore; Victoria Miro, London; David Zwirner, New York. © Yayoi Kusama Photo: Eikoh Hosoe

Love Forever: Wood, mirrors, metal, and lightbulbs.

Photo by Cathy Carver

The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away: Mirrors and Led Lighting

Courtesy of David Zwirner, N.Y. © Yayoi Kusama

Love Transformed into Dots

Mixed media installation. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore; Victoria Miro, London; David Zwirner, New York., © Yayoi Kusama Photo by Cathy Carver

Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity: Mirrors, LEDs and Lanterns

Collection of the artist. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore; Victoria Miro, London; David Zwirner, New York. © Yayoi Kusama Photo by Cathy Carver

All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins: LEDs, Mirrors and Pumpkins

Collection of the artist. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo / Singapore and Victoria Miro, London. © Yayoi Kusama Photo by Cathy Carver

Flower Overcoat: Cloth overcoat, plastic flowers, metallic paint, and wood hanger

Photo Credit: Lee Stalsworth

Installation view of Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, 2017. Life (Repetitive Vision),

Photo by Cathy Carver

Left to right: Living on the Yellow Land, 2015; My Adolescence in Bloom, 2014; Welcoming the Joyful Season, 2014; Surrounded by Heartbeats, 2014; Unfolding Buds, 2015; Story After Death, 2014

Photo by Cathy Carver

Pumpkin, 2016, at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Photo by Cathy Carver

Ennui, 1976; Accumulation, 1962-64; Red Stripes, 1965; Arm Chair, 1963

Photo by Cathy Carver

Left to right: Blue Spots, 1965; Flowers – Overcoat, 1964; A Snake, 1974; Ennui, 1976; Accumulation, 1962-64; Red Stripes, 1965; Arm Chair, 1963

Photo by Cathy Carver

Infinity Nets Yellow, 1960 (Oil paint on canvas)

National Gallery of Art, Washington. Gift of the Collectors Committee (2002.37.1). © Yayoi Kusama

Searching for Love, 2013 (Acrylic on canvas)

Collection of Miyoung Lee and Neil Simpkins. Image © Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York; Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo / Singapore; Victoria Miro, London

The Hill, 1953 A (No. 30), 1953 (Gouache, pastel, oil paint, and wax on paper)

© Yayoi Kusama Photo credit: Cathy Carver

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Updates 21 Mar 2017

A Walk into Yayoi Kusama’s Infinite Universe

A respected Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama has been one of the most celebrated artists in this era. With a career span of 65 years and more, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden showcases the breadth of her prodigious work. A victim of mental illness, Kusama transforms her weakness into inspiring art that communicates to the world her visions and experiences. Featuring six mirrored rooms, the exhibition also displays several other key works of the artist.

Images Courtesy: Yayoi Kusama, Tomoaki Makino, Cathy Carver, Eikoh Hosoe, Lee Stalsworth

Yayoi Kusama, a celebrated visual artist has an inspiring story to tell. The 87-year-old from Tokyo gracefully wrapped and molded her mental health crisis into art that would commune her thoughts and experiences to the world. Exhibiting her five-decade career span, Washington’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden displays Infinity Mirrors that speak Kusama’s language of shapes, colours and abstract concepts.

Before making her way to Mirror rooms, Kusama worked with colours and cell-inspired figures on paper as well as infinity net paintings. Depicting a repetition in cell-like or microbiological forms throughout her creations, she chose an abstract approach to course her thoughts through her artwork.

Using mirrors as a medium of interpretation, she transferred her works from paper into a visceral experience. Having produced over twenty Infinity rooms over the years, the Hirshhorn exhibition would be the first to showcase six of Yayoi’s mirror rooms. Elaborating her work to infinity, each immersive-mirrored room multiplies the appearance of the viewer, making them the sole subject of her work. The effect would however differ for each one, based on the reactions seen through the parade of lights, reflections, shapes and colours. Amazingly, even without the aid of technology, Kusama developed her own virtual reality through these mirrored rooms.  

6 Mirrored Rooms:

Phalli’s Field: Stuffed Cotton, Polka Dots and Mirrors

Kusama’s original idea of the Phallic Field displayed the notion of hallucinatory experiences through the phallic surfaces she had created. These cotton stuffed phallic fabric pieces eventually took a toll on her labour, mentally as well as physically. This is when she chose to resort to mirrors to achieve the desired repetition. A crucial breakthrough for the artist, the reflective surfaces helped her eclipse the limitations she once thought was a dead end. The mirrors therefore worked as an interactive experience for the viewer, making them the sole subject to her work.

Phalli’s Field: Sewn stuffed cotton fabric, board, and mirrors

Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore; Victoria Miro, London; David Zwirner, New York. © Yayoi Kusama Photo: Eikoh Hosoe

Love Forever: Mirrors, Light Bulbs, Metal and Wood

Hexagonal in nature, Love Forever was conceptualized in 1966. Featuring two peepholes, the viewers are invited to glance in and view themselves as well as the other participant imitated into infinity.  

Love Forever: Wood, mirrors, metal, and lightbulbs.

Photo by Cathy Carver

The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away: Mirrors and Led Lighting

Making use of mirrors and LED lights, this installation stimulates an out-of-body experience and gets the viewer to purpose their existence and their relationship with the outer world.

The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away: Mirrors and Led Lighting

Courtesy of David Zwirner, N.Y. © Yayoi Kusama

Love Transformed into Dots: Mirrors and Balloons

This space would make almost anyone happy. The viewer could choose to experience the micro space through the peephole or the macro sized space within the installation.

Love Transformed into Dots

Mixed media installation. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore; Victoria Miro, London; David Zwirner, New York., © Yayoi Kusama Photo by Cathy Carver

Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity: Mirrors, LEDs and Lanterns

This mirrored room explores an interesting match of golden lanterns and a purposed black space that represents an endless void.

Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity: Mirrors, LEDs and Lanterns

Collection of the artist. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore; Victoria Miro, London; David Zwirner, New York. © Yayoi Kusama Photo by Cathy Carver

All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins: LEDs, Mirrors and Pumpkins

Inspired by the unusual shape and size of a guard Kusama saw one day with her grandfather, she chose to re-live that moment through her work. This installation is an example of such a moment where she transports her viewers to a space she reminisces fantasy and fairy tales.

All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins: LEDs, Mirrors and Pumpkins

Collection of the artist. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo / Singapore and Victoria Miro, London. © Yayoi Kusama Photo by Cathy Carver

While Hirshhorn’s exhibition focused over 6 mirrored rooms largely, visitors are also free to view few of her other works, one of which includes Kusama’s paintings from the ‘My Eternal Soul’ series.

Flower Overcoat: Cloth overcoat, plastic flowers, metallic paint, and wood hanger

Photo Credit: Lee Stalsworth

Installation view of Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, 2017. Life (Repetitive Vision),

Photo by Cathy Carver

Left to right: Living on the Yellow Land, 2015; My Adolescence in Bloom, 2014; Welcoming the Joyful Season, 2014; Surrounded by Heartbeats, 2014; Unfolding Buds, 2015; Story After Death, 2014

Photo by Cathy Carver

Pumpkin, 2016, at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Photo by Cathy Carver

Ennui, 1976; Accumulation, 1962-64; Red Stripes, 1965; Arm Chair, 1963

Photo by Cathy Carver

Left to right: Blue Spots, 1965; Flowers – Overcoat, 1964; A Snake, 1974; Ennui, 1976; Accumulation, 1962-64; Red Stripes, 1965; Arm Chair, 1963

Photo by Cathy Carver

Infinity Nets Yellow, 1960 (Oil paint on canvas)

National Gallery of Art, Washington. Gift of the Collectors Committee (2002.37.1). © Yayoi Kusama

Searching for Love, 2013 (Acrylic on canvas)

Collection of Miyoung Lee and Neil Simpkins. Image © Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York; Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo / Singapore; Victoria Miro, London

The Hill, 1953 A (No. 30), 1953 (Gouache, pastel, oil paint, and wax on paper)

© Yayoi Kusama Photo credit: Cathy Carver

Because Kusama’s work and exhibition has gained immense popularity over time, visitors are entitled just about 20 seconds to view each space. It’s recommended that you leave behind your phone and use those few seconds to grasp all the beauty your eyes can. The exhibition at Washington would stay open until the 14th of May, following which ‘Infinity Mirrors’ would travel to Seattle Art Museum, The Broad at Los Angeles, The Art Gallery of Ontario, Cleveland Museum of Art and High Museum of Art.