Yayoi Kusama’s Biggest New York Show in Years Is a Late-Career Triumph

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Yayoi Kusama is one of 20th-century artists whose work is recognizable over the world. She stands next to such figures as Picasso, Pollock, Warhol and Basquiat. Fans often come to her show just to spend less than a minute in her iconic Infinity Rooms, take a selfie and post it on social media.

So it was with her early New York exhibitions. And that will likely be the case for her latest gallery show, which runs until July 21st. This show takes place in three connected venues on West 19th Street in Chelsea. This makes it David Zwirner’s biggest show to date.

Yayoi Kusama, Dreaming of Earth’s Sphericity, I Would Offer My Love, 2023, installation view.

The grandiose scale is likely to be met with huge attendance. Over 94,000 people attended the David Zwirner Show in 2021. This event is likely to pass the 100,000 mark. The gallery will once again offer updates on their social media platforms on expected wait times for this exhibition on a first come, first serve basis.

There are works in the vein of her well-known spotted pumpkins, sculptures depicting whimsical flowers, and, of course, an “Infinity Room.”This show represents a significant departure for the 94-year-old artist. She proves she is still in fine form.

These works are stripped down, approaching the minimalism that Kusama used when she first arrived in New York in 1958. This contrast is likely to come as a surprise to the casual Kusama fan. But for those familiar with her vast and expansive oeuvre, it may be less shocking.

This contrast is likely to come as a surprise to the casual Kusama fan. But for those familiar with her vast and expansive oeuvre, it may be less shocking.

Installation view of “Yayoi Kusama: I Spend Each Day Embracing Flowers,” 2023, at David Zwirner, New York

If you approach the gallery from 10th Avenue, you will notice that the garage-like doors are raised, allowing you to look inside. In this space, you will be able to see three towering flower sculptures with multiple layers of petals and bright dot decorations. This is a playful reminder that in the second week of May, spring has arrived and summer is just around the corner.

Down a short hallway is the second gallery, which houses the long-awaited new “Infinity Room” and a set of 35 new paintings, most of which are titled “EVERY DAY I PRAY FOR LOVE”.

Lately, the longstanding practice of Kusama`s drawing has become clearer. No doubt this is partly due to Zwirner, who probably capitalizes on the fact that paintings are much easier to sell than large-scale installations.

It may seem surprising, but the artist Kusama is still little known. She began creating luxury paintings, first as part of her “Web of Infinity” series, begun in the late 1950s. They reward the attentive eye, begging the audience to obediently look at each slightly modified brushstroke.

Installation view of “Yayoi Kusama: I Spend Each Day Embracing Flowers,” 2023, at David Zwirner, New York

She is a formalist whose use of repetition is often used as a way to find inner peace. The paintings featured here are less technically accurate than those Zwirner has shown previously and those featured in her current M+ retrospective, which includes several completed in 2019 and 2020.

The final room of this exhibition is a tour de force. Here you can see three giant pumpkins. Any sense of movement fades. They seem frozen in time. They tower over the audience, with the tallest of the three rising to over 11 feet. The three sculptures, titled Pursuit of Pumpkin Love, Love in My Heart (all 2023), are positioned in such a way that they form a path for visitors to navigate.

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