DuJour Navigation

Behind the Exhibit: Yayoi Kusama at the Broad

L.A.’s hottest ticket offers more than the perfect selfie

88-year old Yayoi Kusama must be worth the wait. Case in point: Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room-The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away (2013), which debuted on the first floor of Los Angeles’s Broad Museum in 2015 and has been conjuring lines of selfie-ready visitors ever since. Now, with Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrors” as the focus of a traveling exhibition, there’s no end in sight for the indefatigable Kusama queue.

“Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors,” on view at the Broad through January 1st, gives both Kusama converts and rookies alike the chance to step inside six of the octogenarian visionary’s signature psychedelic installations. Only standby tickets remain for the exhibition, which sold out in mere minutes. Deemed both the “world’s most popular artist,” and the most expensive living female artist, Kusama’s star has continued to rise in recent years, largely due to a popular embrace that sees her rooms as tailor-made for selfies. Even Martha Stewart tweeted one.

Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away (2013)

No exception, Souls, “has become one of Los Angeles’ most recognizable artworks,” says Broad assistant curator Sarah Loyer, explaining that its verified status as “a cultural phenomenon” encouraged the institution to host this exhibition. Beginning with her earliest room in 1965 to Infinity Mirrored Room—All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, created only last year, each “immersive installation provokes a sense of boundlessness and transcendence through extreme repetition,” explains Loyer, “enabling viewers to experience what the artist refers to as ‘self-obliteration’ and ‘radical connectivity.’”

Yayoi Kusama, All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins (2016)

However, with entry to each room limited to only 30 seconds, “boundlessness” may be a bit ambitious. As Jori Finkel recently argued in The Art Newspaper, “half a minute is not enough time to experience the most powerful dynamic of these rooms: our shifting perceptions of what is far versus near, or personal versus universal, as one collapses into the other through the unending regression of mirrored images.”


Between rooms, visitors witness Kusama’s ambitious dexterity in a variety of mediums, from her entrancing Infinity Nets canvases of the late 1950s and early 1960s, her wild “My Eternal Soul” works (drawn from an archive of over 500 begun in 2009) and phallic Accumulation sculptures, to butterfly-winged collages and documentary photographs of her radical performances. Infinity Mirrors will continue to travel through 2019, to the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Cleveland Museum of Art and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.

Yayoi Kusama, installation view of Infinity Mirror Room—Phalli’s Field (1965)

The artist’s first infinity room, Phalli’s Field, 1965, may be her best. Inside, the familiar becomes strange and the strange familiar, as hundreds of engorged tentacles shaped from everyday red-on-white polka dot fabric sprout longingly from the floor. Those similarly aching for endless Kusama can catch everything from the infinity rooms to nets at David Zwirner, both uptown and downtown, in New York until December 16th, or at the artist’s own museum, just opened this fall in Tokyo. Not willing to wait? You could always splurge, if you will, on a room of one’s own.

Main image: Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Mirrored Room – Love Forever, 1966/1994 (credit: Hirschorn Museum)