Hirshhorn debuts new Yayoi Kusama exhibition

Photo by Cathy Carver

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden has debuted “One with Eternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirshhorn Collection,” a focused look at the celebrated artist’s nearly seven-decade long career, open now through Nov. 27. Presented nearly five years after the Hirshhorn’s milestone exhibition “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors,” this exhibition showcases work by Kusama from the museum’s permanent collection, featuring two recently acquired Infinity Mirror Rooms.

The exhibition sits alongside the museums programs that highlight the work of women artists, which includes a major survey of Laurie Anderson, a thematic 40-painting exhibition by Toyin Ojih Odutola and an upcoming first-time exhibition of women and non-binary artists in the museum’s collection including Barbara Hepworth, Deborah Roberts and Alma Thomas.

“This highly anticipated exhibition allows us to show the impact of Kusama’s radical practice and welcome three significant works into the permanent collection,” said Hirshhorn Director Melissa Chiu. “‘One with Eternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirshhorn Collection’ demonstrates that Kusama’s legacy extends far beyond a single body of work.

The Hirshhorn is issuing free, same-day timed passes to “One with Eternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirshhorn Collection” on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 9:30 a.m. daily outside on the museum’s plaza. Timed passes are required for this exhibition, but not for entry into the Hirshhorn Museum, other exhibitions and public spaces. As one of their member benefits, Hirshhorn Insiders are invited to either preview the exhibition or plan ahead by booking timed passes online. The museum has partnered with Etix to manage online pass distribution for members. For more information about timed passes, visit the exhibition’s FAQ.

Organized by Betsy Johnson, assistant curator at the Hirshhorn, “One with Eternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirshhorn Collection” charts Kusama’s unique studio practice in the context of the museum’s collection holdings. Among the acquisitions on view are two of Kusama’s otherworldly Infinity Mirror Rooms, which together represent the continuing trajectory of the artist’s bold investigation of space and time through illusions of infinity.

“Infinity Mirror Room—Phalli’s Field (Floor Show)” (1965/2017) is the 2017 reimagining of Kusama’s breakthrough installation that first debuted in 1965, and “Infinity Mirrored Room—My Heart Is Dancing into the Universe” (2018), acquired jointly with the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, is one of the artist’s more recent rooms. As part of the exhibition, additional sculptures, an early work on paper and photographs of the artist are also on view, giving visitors a comprehensive look into how the artist has continued to innovate and explore new avenues of artmaking. These include an early painting titled “The Hill, 1953 A (No. 30)” (1953), “Flowers—Overcoat” (1964) and an immersive presentation of “Pumpkin” (2016) in which viewers are surrounded by walls wrapped in the artist’s signature polka-dots. The Hirshhorn has collected the artist’s work since 1996.

In 2017, the Hirshhorn welcomed a record 475,000 visitors during the exhibition—its highest spring visitation since the museum’s opening in 1974, doubling its attendance that year to 1.2 million. The touring exhibition welcomed more than 800,000 visitors to partner museums across the U.S. and Canada during the next two years. The impact of “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” across social media reached an unprecedented global audience with the exhibition hashtag #InfiniteKusama extending to more than 172 million Twitter and Instagram accounts and generating more than 716 million impressions. This digital footprint catalyzed audiences around the world to engage with Kusama’s work on a new scale and demonstrated the transformational power of sharing interactions with Kusama’s work on social media. As audiences continue to share their experiences digitally, “One With Eternity” gives visitors another opportunity to connect with friends and followers across the globe.

Troy Petenbrink

Troy, also known as The Gay Traveler, is a well known travel and food writer. His has been a regular contributor to a variety of outlets including National Geographic, Travel Channel, DCRefined, CBS Local, and Metro Weekly. He also appears on local Washington news outlets as a travel expert.

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