Yayoi Kusama’s Wildly Popular Retrospective ‘Infinity Mirrors’ Is Coming to The Broad
As a 10-year-old girl in Japan while World War II loomed ahead, Yayoi Kusama experienced vivid hallucinations. Flowers spoke to her. It’s a sensibility that informed if not infused her art across the 20th and now the 21st century.
Today, Kusama’s visions stretch to infinity and she is the much talked-about star of the must-see exhibit “Infinity Mirrors” coming to L.A.’s The Broad Oct. 21. When tickets were first released online Sept. 1, thousands of people formed a virtual line early – but were nevertheless astounded that there were tens of thousands ahead of them. Since those 50,000 tickets sold out in less than an hour, 40,000 additional tickets are now scheduled for release Oct. 2.
The “Infinity Mirrors” show is the first retrospective of the 88-year-old artist’s extravagant work. Kusama first rose to prominence in the 1950s as she explored pop art, conceptual art and the rest of the range of 20th century avant-gardism. She did a stay in New York during the 1960s, participating in the era’s hippie environment with a happening that featured naked people painted with polka dots, and also joined the protest movements of the day opposing the war in Vietnam.
Enthusiasts of art from the era will recognize the spirit of the age in the title of one of the pieces in the “Infinity Mirrors” retrospective: “All the Eternal Love I Have for Pumpkins” – a room full of glowing yellow guards covered in black polka dots and reflected in mirrored walls and ceilings.
Two of the other six rooms include “Phalli’s Field” and “Love Forever.” The first is a collection of red and white fabric stuffed with cotton to form pillow-like mini-sculptures. The second is an installation of wood, mirrors, metal and lightbulbs, featuring peeholes that invite vistors to see themselves and others repeated into infinity. The title comes from the label on buttons that Kusama distributed at a 1966 exhibit and stands for civil rights, sexual liberation and the anti-war movement.
Kusama is already known to Broad visitors from her “Souls of Millions Light Years Away” exhibit. Through the use of mirrors and a panorama of LEDs, the installation creates the illusion – and the emotion – of staring into space, with all the stars in the sky glowing brightly and then less brightly as they fade into the distance. The exhibit, which has been on view at the DTLA museum, will now be part of the retrospective.
“The timing is right for an exhibition that contextualizes the infinity rooms and brings Kusama’s contributions to 20th and 21st century art into deeper focus,” said Joanne Heyler, founding director of The Broad.
It’s the first time The Broad has hosted a traveling exhibit; the retrospective opened last year at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. and then moved to the Seattle Art Museum before its only California stop at The Broad. From there, it will go on to institutions in Toronto and Cleveland.
The Hirshhorn exhibit became wildly popular when visitors began taking selfies amid Kusama’s installations and posting them on social media – advertising and promotion that artists of the past could have never imagined.
“Yayoi Kusama, who, at this stage of her career, is a worldwide phenomenon, has the ability to inspire audiences of all ages with the power of her art,” said Melissa Chiu, director of the Hirshhorn.
Attendees of the exhibit will be able to experience each of the “Infinity Mirror” rooms for 30 seconds and will have access to other parts of the exhibit, including a selection of Kusama’s paintings, sculptures and works on paper. Advance tickets are $25 and a limited number of same-day passes will be issued at $30. All tickets include admission to the entire museum.