press release

15.11.2021 ​- ​23.04.2022

Yayoi Kusama: A Retrospective

Stephanie Rosenthal, Suzanne Landau
Associate Curator: Shahar Molcho
Assistant Curator: Naama Bar-Or

Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929, Matsumoto, Japan) is one of the most important artists of our time. This is her first major exhibition in Israel, bringing together artworks produced over an eighty-year period. This extensive survey of the artist's career to date traces her work in Japan, the United States, and Europe, from her early paintings and sculptures to her immersive installations.

Growing up in Matsumoto during Japan’s foreign policy of expansion in the 1940s, Kusama’s family earned their living by running a seed nursery. In 1948, at the age of nineteen, she moved to Kyoto to study the traditional nihonga painting style at the Kyoto Municipal School of Art and Crafts. She subsequently trained in the yōga style — a form of Japanese painting in a Western style, associated with the rapid modernization of Japan. Moving to the United States in the late 1950s — at the encouragement of the American painter Georgia O’Keeffe, with whom she had corresponded – Kusama’s reputation in New York and Europe grew in the 1960s. Her work was exhibited simultaneously in New York galleries and in Amsterdam, The Hague, Essen, Milan, Rotterdam, and Venice.

Kusama has worked with numerous media, such as painting, collage, sculpture, video, performance, installation, fashion, literature, and music. Her all-enveloping environments, including her Infinity Mirror Rooms and large-scale installations — the two newest of which were created specifically for the current exhibition — aim to overwhelm the senses. Infinity and self-obliteration are the main recurring themes in Kusama’s work. Obsessive patterns of dots and nets cover surfaces with ceaseless repetition, and mirrors create dizzying spaces that replicate our gaze. Blurring the boundaries between figure and surrounding world, Kusama seeks universal expansion into infinity.

Major funding was provided by Bank Hapoalim; Wissotsky 6 Project by Acro Real Estate, Aviv Group and LR Group; and the insurer of the exhibition, Harel Insurance and Finance.

Generous support was provided by Sharon and David Braginsky; Wendy Fisher and the Nathan Kirsh Foundation; Doron and Marianne Livnat; Steeve Nassima; Yael and Rami Ungar; and Rachel and Moshe Yanai.

Additional support was provided by Rachelli Mishori and Leon Koffler; Irith Rappaport and Glen Perry; and the Moise Y. Safra Foundation.