Best of 2009
Originally published on April 27, 2009
Gagosian Gallery is presenting two major exhibitions in New York and Beverly Hills to celebrate Yayoi Kusama‘s eightieth year. The artist, born in Japan in 1929, started painting with polka dots and nets as motifs around the age of ten. She moved to the United States in 1957, where she showed large scale paintings, soft sculptures, and environmental installations using electric lights and mirrors. From 1998-1999, a major retrospective opened at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and traveled to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo.
The exhibition in New York, which opened on April 16th, features a large yellow pumpkin sculpture with black spots in a specifically designed space at the front of the gallery. This piece is based on a similar work Kusama showed at the Japanese pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1993 – a mirrored room filled with pumpkin sculptures in which the artist resided in color-coordinated attire. The pumpkin, made of fiberglass and reinforced plastic, represents a type of self portrait or alter ego for the artist, whose compulsive covering of surfaces and infinite repetition of dots, patterns, and forms is characteristic of her entire body of work.