Yayoi Kusama Exhibition at the Whitney Museum

Published on: October 13th, 2012

Recently, every window of the Louis Vuitton store in New York City was filled with polka dots and a life-size wax figurine of Yayoi Kusama. Polka dot Princess, psychopath, resurgent Queen of the Japanese art world, precursor of the pop art, Queen of the Hippies, minimalist, even her fans call her “Weird Grandma”, all these labels can’t complete describe Yayoi Kusama (草間彌生)’s complicated and legendary life.

Her art work is often considered controversial. Some people distaste her work, think it is abnormal, creepy, or even can cause trypophobia. But more people admire her work, like me. I love her dense patterns of polka dots and nets, her bold usage of collision color and her strong personality: No one has better talent, and the work never feels old.

I went to Yayoi Kusama’s retrospective in the Whitney Museum. When I was standing in the exhibition room, I felt like I was Alice and walked into wonderland, a space where reality and imagination coexist. I felt a little dizzy yet excited. Repeated polka dot is her unique way to communicate with the world but also a therapy for her. Born in Japan in 1929, when Kusama was ten, she had her first experience of hallucinations symptomatic of a neurotic disorder. These episodes were characterized by floating dots and net patterns, which surrounded and threatened to obliterate her physical and emotional sense of self. She wasn’t beaten by her disease. Instead her oeuvre has been generated largely by her feeling of being sick. Mirrors, dots, patterns, biological antennas and cusps are common theme in her work of art. Kusama considered her dots as signals from the universe and nature, they are cells, species, molecules, all the basic elements of life. She used them to change the inherent form, create connection between objects and build boundless space, which make the spectators like us can’t tell the border of real world and dream land.

I highly recommend this retrospective and Kusama’s Fireflies on the Water exhibition in Whitney Museum.

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Program Update

Parsons is not currently admitting new students to this master’s degree program. Parsons is now offering a Graduate Minor in Design Studies that is designed to complement the MA History of Design and Curatorial Studies and other graduate programs across the university in design, liberal arts, and social research.