Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama by Jason Schmidt


Two weeks ago I went to the Whitney to check out the Yayoi Kusama exhibit. The line to get into the museum, on a Thursday morning, was wrapped around the block. I was quite pleased to see this. Sometimes I think the arts will die and this country will just subsist on reality television and those bite size chicken tenders from KFC.

The retrospective was pretty extensive, with Kusama’s early works, through all her different stages, to current work. Overall, I was very impressed by her shift in medium through the years, yet, there is something undeniably “her” about all the work. Her more recent paintings had a Haring-esque quality to them, but undoubtedly referred to some of her earliest paintings and sketches. We’re talking a span of 50 years. I found it comforting to see the similarities of then and now… like not all is lost all the time, and in fact, the things you found really interesting in the first place might actually still interest you half a century later. Like… no, we don’t all grow old and cynical.

Downstairs in the lobby there is the installation of Fireflies on Water. It’s a room, mirrored, with black floors and a shallow pool of water and thousands of colored Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling and you enter by yourself for 1 minute. The museum cautions that people with vertigo may not do well in this environment. I loved it. It may have been the best 60 seconds of my entire summer. There I was, on 75th and Madison, floating in infinite outer space. It was fucking magical!

Unfortunately, both because of the rules and because I wanted to be mindful and live in the moment… the best illustration of the experience I could get for you was lifting the photo from the Whitney website. As cool as it would have been, Yayoi Kusama was not in the room of the installation wearing that dress.

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