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“Remembering Kynaston McShine, the Visionary MoMA Curator Who Defined Some of Contemporary Art’s Most Radical Movements,” By Julia Halperin

Kynaston McShine. Photo: Marc Ohrem-Leclef, courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art.


“Remembering Kynaston McShine, the Visionary MoMA Curator Who Defined Some of Contemporary Art’s Most Radical Movements”

“He organized some of the 20th century’s most consequential exhibitions and was the first curator of color to work at a major American museum.”

By Julia Halperin


Kynaston McShine, one of the most influential curators of the 20th century, has died. He was 82.

If you have visited a museum in the last 50 years and enjoyed a site-specific installation, participated in an interactive work of art, or been taken aback by a project that critiques the very institution in which it is shown, you probably have McShine to thank.

Over the course of his more than half-century career, McShine organized exhibitions that defined several of the most consequential movements in modern and contemporary art. In 1966, he presented the show “Primary Structures” at the Jewish Museum in New York, which introduced Minimalism to an American audience. (The artist Mark di Suvero called it “the key show of the 1960s.”)

His exhibition “Information,” organized four years later at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, is often considered the first survey of conceptual art in America and one of the earliest shows to examine technology’s impact on art.

In a statement, MoMA director Glenn Lowry called McShine “a daring and pioneering curator with an unfailingly sharp eye and a keen sense of moment.” When he first joined MoMA in 1959, McShine, who was Afro-Caribbean, is believed to have been the first curator of color to work at a major American museum.

Despite the fact that he crafted some of the most famous exhibitions of the first half of the 20th century, however, McShine remained an elusive figure—he rarely granted interviews, and went so far as to decline Hans Ulrich Obrist’s invitation to participate in the 2008 book A Brief History of Curating. As of 2011, he didn’t even have a Wikipedia entry.

McShine was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, in 1935. He attended Dartmouth College, where he studied philosophy and worked at the school’s Hood Museum. He did graduate work at the University of Michigan (1958–59) and the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University (1960–62). He taught at Hunter College from 1965 to 1968.

After a stint in the department of circulating exhibitions at MoMA, McShine secured a gig as curator of painting and sculpture at the Jewish Museum from 1965 to 1967. He served as acting director from 1967 to 1968. There, in addition to “Primary Structures,” he organized solo exhibitions of work by Gene Davis, Robert Irwin, and Yves Klein. A statement released by the Jewish Museum described McShine as a “visionary curator.”

McShine returned to MoMA in 1968 as associate curator and later served as acting chief curator of the department of painting and sculpture. In the 1970s, he initiated MoMA’s Projects series, which offered younger artists—including, early on, Sam Gilliam and Nancy Graves—an opportunity to present experimental new work. He also organized solo exhibitions surveying the achievements of Andy Warhol (1989), Robert Rauschenberg (1977), and Marcel Duchamp (1973). He retired from MoMA in 2008 as chief curator at large.

“He was famous for his gruff manner, which masked a warm and deeply affectionate colleague who cared enormously about modern art and the museum that was home to him for more than forty years,” Lowry said.

Bard College gave McShine its award for curatorial excellence in 2003. He has received honorary doctorates from the San Francisco Art Institute (2007) and the University of the West Indies (2008).

The art historian Sarah Edith Kleinman, who is writing her dissertation on McShine, told artnet News that when she began her research a year and a half ago, many people told her he would be impossible to track down. She suspects that his disinterest in self-promotion was a holdover from an earlier era. With the exception of one or two big names like Seth Siegelaub and Harald Szeemann, curators in the 1960s and ’70s “were understood to be ‘behind-the-scenes’ decision makers,” she said. By the time art historians became public figures, “McShine had become entrenched in his unspoken policy of declining interviews.”

Nevertheless, McShine himself redefined the role of an art museum curator over the course of his career. “No longer a behind-the-scenes caretaker of art collections, the contemporary curator that McShine exemplifies is understood as a globally networked practitioner who shares with museum staff the duties of a collaborator, creator, manager, networker, planner, publicist, and fundraiser,” Kleinman said. “In the context of 1950s and 1960s New York City, where curators and artists of color faced blatant discrimination, McShine’s work is even more significant and groundbreaking, opening conversations about the intersections of race, identity, and power.”

McShine sometimes favored projects that needled MoMA’s establishment—but the guiding force behind it all was a fundamental belief in the power and importance of the museum. In “Information,” he allowed Hans Haacke to poll MoMA’s visitors about the views of New York Governor—and MoMA trustee—Nelson Rockefeller on the Vietnam War.

As ARTnews notes, McShine once wrote a memo proposing a show of MoMA acquisitions “which have enriched our collection as a result of Hitler’s Entartete Kunst campaign.” (MoMA’s leadership declined to bite, but the idea ultimately evolved into a show of political art from the collection, “The Artist as Adversary.”)

McShine also, however inadvertently, helped inspire the creation of the Guerrilla Girls. His 1985 exhibition “International Survey of Contemporary Painting and Sculpture” at MoMA—which sought to offer a snapshot of the current state of contemporary art—included 169 artists, only 13 of whom were women. McShine said that any artist who wasn’t in the show “should rethink his career” (emphasis ours)—prompting a group of young artists to gather together to protest.

Despite its demographic limitations, however, that show—like many of McShine’s exhibitions—expressed his belief that the museum ought to present the most challenging and visionary art of its era and never cease to interrogate its own role in the larger machine. In a rare interview with the New York Times, he described the show as “a sign that the museum will restore the balance between contemporary art and art history that is part of what makes the place unique.”

He added: “A serious public cannot depend upon the whims of commercial galleries. It has to depend upon museums.”


By Julia Halperin, Executive News Editor, Reprint from Artnet, 9 January 2018, © 2018 Artnet Worldwide Corporation.

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“Newly Discovered van Gogh Drawing Is a ‘Stylistic Missing Link’ ” By Nina Siegal

“The Hill of Montmartre with Stone Quarry,” dated 1886, has been authenticated by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which says it has documents that confirm the drawing is by Van Gogh. © Van Vlissingen Art Foundation


“Newly Discovered van Gogh Drawing Is a ‘Stylistic Missing Link’ “

By NINA SIEGAL


AMSTERDAM — The Van Gogh Museum here on Tuesday announced the discovery of a previously unknown drawing by Vincent van Gogh, which the museum said was completed about a month after the Dutch post-Impressionist artist arrived in Paris in 1886. The museum’s researchers studied the style and history of “The Hill of Montmartre with Stone Quarry,” dated March 1886, and found documents they said confirm that it is a lost van Gogh.

“It’s a big day today,” said Teio Meedendorp, a senior researcher at the Van Gogh Museum who studied the subject, style, technique, materials and provenance of the drawing, and found the relevant documentary evidence to support the attribution.

The museum owns the largest collection of van Gogh’s works anywhere in the world, including more than half of the artist’s drawn oeuvre — approximately 500 drawings as well as his sketchbooks.

“It’s a nice robust drawing by Vincent and he captured the hill of Montmartre very well,” Mr. Meedendorp said.

Mr. Meedendorp said that the drawing is particularly interesting because it is more in keeping with van Gogh’s earlier style than his later work when he lived in Paris. He added that the drawing shows that van Gogh’s work evolved during his crucial years in the French capital from a formal style that he learned at the art academy in Antwerp just before arriving in Paris, and became increasingly experimental.

“It’s a kind of stylistic missing link between his Belgium and Paris time,” said Fred Leeman, an independent van Gogh expert and curator of exhibitions by the artist, who is a consultant to the Van Vlissingen Foundation, which currently owns the drawing.

The last time a new van Gogh drawing was discovered was in 2012. A year later, a new van Gogh painting, “Sunset at Montmajour” (1888), was also found. But these findings are relatively rare. Since the publication of the complete catalog of van Gogh’s works in 1970, another nine drawings and seven paintings have been added, Mr. Meedendorp said.

When it came to the Van Gogh Museum for research in 2012, the drawing was owned by an American private collector whose Dutch relatives had purchased the work from a gallery in the Netherlands in 1917, Mr. Meedendorp explained. But the museum did not publicize the finding at the time, at the request of the previous owner.

Aside from Mr. Leeman, no other experts outside the museum have yet seen the drawing.

Research by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the world’s leading expertise center on the artist, found that “The Hill of Montmartre with Stone Quarry” came into the hands of van Gogh’s sister-in-law, Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, a meticulous keeper of van Gogh’s materials, who numbered it “123” in her inventory.

Mr. Meedendorf said that when he took the drawing out of its frame, he found the telltale number, “123,” written on the back.

A similar drawing, “The Hill of Montmartre,” which was thought to be by van Gogh but then discredited, has now been reattributed to the artist. © Vincent Van Gogh Foundation, via Associated Press

The discovery of “The Hill of Montmartre with Stone Quarry” led the Van Gogh Museum to reconsider another drawing that it had in its collection, which had been part of the original donation from the van Gogh family heirs. That drawing, titled “The Hill of Montmartre,” also completed in 1886, is drawn from a very similar perspective of the Parisian hilltop.

This drawing was originally thought to be by van Gogh, but in 2001, it was questioned because it was so dissimilar to work from his Paris period, and then discredited.

“Now that you have a set of two, it’s clear that it was a style he maintained during the first part of his time in Paris,” said Mr. Leeman.

By comparing these two drawings side-by-side, researchers realized that the works were incredibly similar, and both were attributed to van Gogh.

“It’s the same materials, the same paper, it’s quite clear that these were both done by the same hand at almost the same time,” said Mr. Meedendorp.

“One thing led to another,” he added. “If this was a van Gogh drawing then the other one had to be one as well.”


A version of this article appears in print on January 17, 2018, on Page C3 of the New York edition with the headline: Museum Announces A New van Gogh.


By Nina Siegal, Reprint from The New York Times, ART & DESIGN, 16 January 2018, © 2018 The New York Times Company

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“25 Years of David Zwirner Gallery and The Artists Who Shaped It,” By Andreja Velimirović

David Zwirner, 43 Greene Street, New York, 2001 (during the exhibition Diana Thater: The sky is unfolding under you). Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London/Hong Kong.


“25 Years of David Zwirner Gallery and The Artists Who Shaped It”

‘Art Exhibitions’

By Andreja Velimirović


On the occasion of the venue’s 25th anniversary, David Zwirner Gallery will present a special exhibition rich with content that will celebrate all the artists who shaped its last quarter century.

David Zwirner: 25 Years will offer the public an opportunity to observe and analyze the venue’s rich history.

The show will feature all the key artworks as the highlights of the gallery’s program since its founding in 1993 and it will emphasize just how important long-term dedication really is in the world of art.

A Long Time of Excellence

Since officially opening its doors at 43 Greene Street in 1993, David Zwirner Gallery tirelessly and patiently established a reputation of holding ambitious exhibitions guided by an artist-centric ethos. Now, Zwirner’s galleries are considered to be a true elite of the art world and it’s very interesting to see the way they progressed over the years.

In 2002, the gallery relocated from SoHo to West 19th Street before the decision to expand to Europe was made in 2012 – the result was a venue in London’s Mayfair district where a gallery was placed in an eighteenth-century Georgian townhouse at 24 Grafton Street. In February 2013, their New York location was expanded when the gallery space received a new five-story exhibition space at 537 West 20th Street.

In September 2017, a new space was opened at 34 East 69th Street on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, a location that was intended for special projects and focused historical exhibitions.

Furthermore, in January 2018, David Zwirner will inaugurate its first gallery in Asia when a new studio will be opened in the H Queen’s building in Central Hong Kong.

David Zwirner: 25 Years

David Zwirner: 25 Years will be a show that will take place simultaneously at all of gallery’s Chelsea spaces in The Big Apple (519, 525 & 533 West 19th Street and 537 West 20th Street). The exhibition will feature artworks by the gallery’s most crucial artists that directly shaped the reputation David Zwirner’s galleries enjoy today.

David Zwirner: 25 Years will present significant historical works that influenced the gallery’s history, but will also feature new and never-before-seen pieces commissioned specially for this occasion.

The exhibition is envisioned to be the evidence of how a contemporary gallery can enjoy a significant and prolonged commercial success by staying true to the same formula up-and-coming galleries turn to when trying to make a name for themselves – staying true to their extraordinary artists.

Displaying this long-term commitment to artists and their ideas will be the central block of the David Zwirner: 25 Years show.

Celebrating Two and a Half Decades of David Zwirner Gallery

David Zwirner: 25 Years will be accompanied by an illustrated catalogue that will take the readers for a journey of revisiting nearly 400 exhibitions that were presented by the gallery since 1993. This publication was made with contributions by celebrated art historian Richard Shiff, renowned curator and academic Robert Storr, as well as David Zwirner himself.

The David Zwirner: 25 Years show will be taking place from the 13th of January to the 17th of February 2018 at all of the David Zwirner Gallery’s Chelsea spaces in New York City.


By Andreja Velimirović, Reprint from Widewalls, 4 January 2018, © 2013-2017 Widewalls | Modern & Contemporary Art Resource

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“Naked and Aflame or Considering Death, Munch Rarely Screamed,” By Jason Farago

Edvard Munch’s “Self-Portrait in Hell” (1903). Munch Museum/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York


“Naked and Aflame or Considering Death, Munch Rarely Screamed”

‘His best-known painting was an outlier among his works, which more often exuded melancholy and resignation, like the ones now at the Met Breuer and Scandinavia House.’

By JASON FARAGO


There are painters in full control of themselves, whose art radiates the tranquillity of lives well lived: the calm Dutch masters Johannes Vermeer or Meindert Hobbema, say, or the Zen monochrome brush painters of the Muromachi era in Japan. And then — hold onto your Xanax — there is the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch.

Anguished, restless, high-strung, desolate, Munch (1863-1944) was a young boy when his mother died of tuberculosis; his beloved older sister, Sophie, succumbed to the same disease. He suffered from asthmatic bronchitis and other frequent illnesses, was haunted by depression, and drank and smoked too much. Relationships with women were difficult, and at the end of one affair, he shot himself in the hand.

Out of that torment, though, came an oeuvre of raw focus that sometimes shrieked into the abyss — as in his most famous painting, “The Scream” — but, far more often, embraced melancholy, resignation and the inevitability of decline.

Who better to guide us through our own fatalistic age? “Edvard Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed,” a calibrated and unostentatious exhibition now at the Met Breuer, reintroduces this nervous genius to New York and makes a point of highlighting his later paintings: He completed the first version of “The Scream” in 1893, and worked for 50 years afterward. (This show initially appeared at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and tours next to the Munchmuseet in Oslo.) Munch has received greater consideration in these angsty days — last year brought “Munch and Expressionism” to the Neue Galerie, as well as a Munch-Jasper Johns two-hander to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts — and the Met Breuer’s show is running concurrently with a smaller, informative exhibition of Munch’s photography, at the nonprofit Scandinavia House on Park Avenue.

The Met Breuer’s exhibition doesn’t rewrite art history. It’s presented thematically, and it includes just 43 paintings, a substantially smaller cache than the Museum of Modern Art’s Munch retrospective had in 2006, or the Art Institute of Chicago’s show in 2009. More than a dozen of the works here, though, are self-portraits, and the central gallery in which they hang functions as an encapsulation of his whole career

Munch self-portraits at the Met Breuer, with, center, the painting that gives the exhibition its name, “Self-Portrait: Between the Clock and the Bed” (1940-43). Munch Museum/The Munch-Ellingsen Group, via Artists Rights Society, New York; Karsten Moran for The New York Times

His first mature one, done in Oslo in 1886, pictures the 23-year-old artist as a solid, self-confident looker, lips pursed, eyes wandering. But he’s abraded the surface of the painting with a metal spatula, and so his neck appears gashed by vertical scuffs and scrapes — a scratchiness he would also employ seven years later in his stern, ghoulish “Self-Portrait Under the Mask of a Woman.” By 1903, naked in his summer studio in Asgardstrand, Munch was painting himself as a bundle of flesh swallowed up in thin brush strokes of burnt ocher and black, and lit only by fierce light from below.

The title clarifies any doubts: “Self-Portrait in Hell.” Yet compared with “The Scream” — a real outlier in Munch’s career, represented in this show by a lithograph of that tormented howler printed in Berlin in 1895 — “Self-Portrait in Hell” and its fellows step back from outward manifestations of distress. Though naked and aflame, Munch here appears quite at home in Hades-on-the-Oslofjord, and the broad strokes that constitute his face cohere into the emptiest of expressions.

Munch’s “Self Portrait With Cigarette” (1895). Nasjonalmuseet, Oslo/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York

Even with his clothes on — in the dapper “Self-Portrait With Cigarette” of 1895, or the alienated “Self-Portrait With a Bottle of Wine” of 1906, when Munch was struggling with alcoholism — this Norwegian painted himself in cool isolation, and by the new century, his face had begun to deform into downcast jumbles of loose, watery strokes that never quite coalesce. In two self-portraits of the ailing Munch from 1919-20, his facial features withdraw into drippy, hastily painted backgrounds that seethe with blue, green and mauve.

Munch’s last major self-portrait, which gives this show its title and is on loan from Oslo, has pride of place at the Met Breuer. “Self-Portrait: Between the Clock and the Bed” (1940-43), features the painter standing ramrod-straight, beside a grandfather clock whose wooden panels are painted with the same bold, vertical strokes Munch uses for his own baggy suit. His eyes are sunken. His mouth is nearly absent, as are the hands of the clock. To the right is a cot, covered with a bedspread whose crosshatched pattern has been rendered with stunningly free parallel strokes. Why finish a painting, Munch seems to reason, when you are caught between the clock and the bed: between the daily ravages of time and life’s inevitable conclusion?

Visitors with the lithograph version of “The Scream” (1895) that is in the exhibition at the Met Breuer. The Munch-Ellingsen Group/Artists Rights Society, New York; Karsten Moran for The New York Times

I know I’m pushing hard the gloomy Nordic clichés — though not as hard as the novelist Karl Ove Knausgaard does in an essay in this show’s catalog. Munch, though heartsick, was not a recluse; he was, in fact, a canny self-promoter who relished the opposition of Norway’s conservative establishment and used news media controversy to build an international career. But clichés take hold for a reason. Munch brooded and fretted, and though he worked nearly through the end of World War II, his art bristles with the romantic excesses of the late 19th century. (Friedrich Nietzsche, whom Munch painted in a posthumous portrait not included in this exhibition, was a major influence.) And in the other thematic galleries here, with such cheery themes as “Nocturnes” or “Sickness and Death,” we see Munch repeat motifs of regret and isolation over decades.

The death of his sister Sophie inspired six versions of “The Sick Child,” in which Munch painted a redheaded invalid sitting upright on her deathbed, her pallid face seen in profile against the pillow. Two of them are here: a version from 1896, roughened with the same scraping technique used in that early self-portrait, and another, from 1915, whose vertical brush strokes are bolder and more discordant. (The same theme inspired one of Munch’s greatest paintings: “Death in the Sick Room,” from 1893, in which a half-dozen mourners in a room of nauseating green look everywhere but at one another, while the ailing child sits hidden in an armchair.)

Munch’s “Self Portrait With Bottles,” circa 1938. Munch Museum/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York

“Ashes” and “The Dance of Life,” two major early allegories of lust and human remoteness, are repainted a quarter-century later with brasher color and bolder outlines. The Met Breuer wants to insist that these more freely painted works from the 1910s onward have been overlooked, though that is an overstatement. The High Museum in Atlanta offered a late Munch show in 2002. MoMA’s 2006 show trod this ground, too, with far more paintings, as did the widely praised retrospective earlier this decade at the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Tate Modern in London.

The estrangement continues at Scandinavia House, where the exhibition “The Experimental Self” presents Munch’s lesser-known photography — although the 50-odd images here are, regrettably, facsimiles and not original prints. Munch used the camera with an intimate, even playful informality, and relied on blurring effects and ornery cropping to capture the same discord he brought to painting and printmaking.

In the foreground, Munch’s “The Sick Child” (1907). The Munch-Ellingsen Group/Artists Rights Society, New York; Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Many of the photographs here rhyme with paintings at the Met Breuer show. “Self-Portrait in Hell,” for one, is complemented at Scandinavia House by a nude self-portrait shot that same summer in Asgardstrand, Munch’s left arm cocked above his hip. A close-up selfie made while recumbent at his doctor’s office is called “Self-Portrait à la Marat” — a reference to the French revolutionary hero murdered in the bathtub, painted by Jacques-Louis David and messily by Munch, too, in 1907.

As much as the painted portraits, these photographic images of the artist rise to the level of what Munch called “self-scrutinies”: emotional but hard-edged, and pierced with a dread of modern life that has outlived the Modernist era. In Munch’s day, the dread came from within. Now, our fears lie outside — in dysfunctional algorithms, in a climate out of joint, in bombs triggered by unstable fingers. Munch’s alienated gaze on aging, illness and lost love can feel a little soppy if you are waylaid by the Nordic atmospherics. But scrutinize them as carefully as Munch scrutinized himself, and they offer a more substantial confession: that the social moorings we cling to may not be as firm as we think.


Edvard Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed
Through Feb. 4 at the Met Breuer, Manhattan; 212-731-1675, metmuseum.org.

The Experimental Self: Edvard Munch’s Photography
Through March 5 at Scandinavia House, Manhattan; 212-779-3587, scandinaviahouse.org.

A version of this review appears in print on December 1, 2017, on Page C17 of the New York edition with the headline: More Than ‘The Scream’.


By Jason Farago, Reprint from The New York Times, ART & DESIGN, 30 November 2017, © 2017 The New York Times Company

“Yayoi Kusama: Festival of Light,” David Zwirner, NYC — through Dec 16, 2017

Portrait of Yayoi Kusama in her studio. Image © Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy of David Zwirner, New York; Ota Fine Arts,Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai; Victoria Miro, London; YAYOI KUSAMA Inc.


“Yayoi Kusama: Festival of Light”
November 2 — December 16, 2017
David Zwirner, 525 & 533 West 19th Street in Chelsea, New York
 
“Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Nets”
November 2- December 16, 2017
David Zwirner, 34 East 69th Street on the Upper East Side, New York
 

David Zwirner presents two major concurrent exhibitions of recent work by Yayoi Kusama on view across three gallery spaces in New York: Festival of Life at 525 and 533 West 19th Street in Chelsea and Infinity Nets at the recently opened space on 34 East 69th Street on the Upper East Side. The exhibitions will feature sixty-six paintings from her iconic My Eternal Soul series, new large-scale flower sculptures, a polka-dotted environment, and two Infinity Mirror Rooms in the Chelsea locations, and a selection of new Infinity Nets paintings uptown.

Installation​ ​view,​ ​​Yayoi​ ​Kusama:​ ​Festival​ ​of Life,​ ​​David​ ​Zwirner,​ ​New​ ​York,​ ​2017.​ ​Image ©​ ​Yayoi​ ​Kusama.​ ​Courtesy​ ​of​ ​David​ ​Zwirner, New​ ​York;​ ​Ota​ ​Fine​ ​Arts,
Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai;​ ​Victoria​ ​Miro, London;​ ​YAYOI​ ​KUSAMA​ ​Inc.

Yayoi​ ​Kusama,​ ​Installation​ ​view,​ ​​Yayoi Kusama:​ ​Festival​ ​of​ ​Life,​ ​​David​ ​Zwirner,​ ​New York,​ ​2017.​ ​Image​ ​©​ ​Yayoi​ ​Kusama. Courtesy​ ​of​ ​David​ ​Zwirner,​ ​New​ ​York;​ ​Ota Fine​ ​Arts,​ ​Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai; Victoria​ ​Miro,​ ​London;​ ​YAYOI​ ​KUSAMA​ ​Inc.

Kusama’s work has transcended some of the most important art movements of the second half of the twentieth century, including Pop art and Minimalism. Born in 1929 in Matsumoto, Japan, she briefly studied painting in Kyoto before moving to New York City in the late 1950s. She began her large-scale infinity net paintings during this decade, and went on to apply their obsessive, hallucinatory qualities to three-dimensional work. In a unique style that is both sensory and utopian, Kusama’s work—which spans paintings, performances, room-size presentations, sculptural installations, literary works, films, fashion, design, and interventions within existing architectural structures—possesses a highly personal character, yet one that has connected profoundly with large audiences around the globe. Throughout her career she has been able to break down traditional barriers between work, artist, and spectator.

Yayoi​ ​Kusama,​ ​​Infinity​ ​Mirrored​ ​Room-Love Forever​,​ ​1966/1994.​ ​Installation​ ​view,​ ​YAYOI KUSAMA,​ ​Le​ ​Consortium,​ ​Dijon,​ ​France, 2000.​ ​Image​ ​©​ ​Yayoi​ ​Kusama.​ ​Courtesy​ ​of David​ ​Zwirner,​ ​New​ ​York;​ ​Ota​ ​Fine​ ​Arts, Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai;​ ​Victoria​ ​Miro, London;​ ​YAYOI​ ​KUSAMA​ ​Inc.

Presented in a tight grid in one of the largest configurations ever executed by the artist, here covering the entirety of four walls, the recent My Eternal Soul paintings on view are part of a highly celebrated, ongoing series begun in the late 2000s. Conveying the extraordinary vitality that characterizes Kusama’s oeuvre, each composition is an innovative exploration of form, subject matter, and space, in which abstract and figurative elements combine to offer impressions of both microscopic and macroscopic universes.

Yayoi​ ​Kusama,​ ​​HUMAN​ ​BEAUTY​ ​OF SMILES​,​ ​2015.​ ​Image​ ​©​ ​Yayoi​ ​Kusama. Courtesy​ ​of​ ​David​ ​Zwirner,​ ​New​ ​York;​ ​Ota Fine​ ​Arts,​ ​Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai; Victoria​ ​Miro,​ ​London;​ ​YAYOI​ ​KUSAMA​ ​Inc.

Yayoi​ ​Kusama,​ ​​IT’S​ ​ME​ ​WHO​ ​IS​ ​CRYING OUT​,​ ​2013.​ ​Image​ ​©​ ​Yayoi​ ​Kusama. Courtesy​ ​of​ ​David​ ​Zwirner,​ ​New​ ​York;​ ​Ota Fine​ ​Arts,​ ​Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai; Victoria​ ​Miro,​ ​London;​ ​YAYOI​ ​KUSAMA​ ​Inc.

Yayoi​ ​Kusama,​ ​​TEARS​ ​WITHIN​ ​THE HEART​,​ ​2016.​ ​Image​ ​©​ ​Yayoi​ ​Kusama. Courtesy​ ​of​ ​David​ ​Zwirner,​ ​New​ ​York;​ ​Ota Fine​ ​Arts,​ ​Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai; Victoria​ ​Miro,​ ​London;​ ​YAYOI​ ​KUSAMA​ ​Inc.

Yayoi​ ​Kusama,​ ​​I​ ​WANT​ ​TO​ ​LIVE​ ​AT​ ​THE FAR​ ​END​ ​OF​ ​THE​ ​UNIVERSE​,​ ​2016.​ ​Image ©​ ​Yayoi​ ​Kusama.​ ​Courtesy​ ​of​ ​David​ ​Zwirner, New​ ​York;​ ​Ota​ ​Fine​ ​Arts,
Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai;​ ​Victoria​ ​Miro, London;​ ​YAYOI​ ​KUSAMA​ ​Inc.

Placed within the vibrant, immersive environment created by the paintings, Kusama’s new stainless steel sculptures depict fantastically scaled, individual flowers featuring the artist’s distinctive bold palette. Made from stainless steel and covered with urethane paint, their exaggerated features and horizontal orientation echo the dualism found throughout her work between the organic and the artificial. This is also evident in With All My Love For The Tulips, I Pray Forever (2011), a sculptural installation—shown for the first time in the United States—in which oversized flower-potted tulips in fiberglass-reinforced plastic are painted with the same red polka dots as the floor, ceiling, and walls, creating an all-enveloping viewing experience while at the same time diminishing the appearance of depth.

The exhibition debuts two new Infinity Mirror Rooms, one which invites the viewer to look inside through three peepholes, and another which can be experienced from within. In the former, miniature light bulbs in changing colors reveal a hexagonal pattern that is mirrored endlessly. The latter envelops the visitor inside a large mirrored room with stainless steel balls suspended from the ceiling and arranged on the floor; an enclosed column within the room offers yet another mirrored environment accessible through peepholes. A sense of infinity is offered through the play of reflections between the circular shapes and the surrounding mirrors. The balls recall Kusama’s installation Narcissus Garden, first shown outdoors at the 33rd Venice Biennale in 1966 with over 1500 reflective spheres and recently presented in the United States at The Glass House in Connecticut.

Yayoi​ ​Kusama,​ ​​INFINITY​ ​MIRRORED​ ​ROOM -​ ​LET’S​ ​SURVIVE​ ​FOREVER​,​ ​2017
Image​ ​©​ ​Yayoi​ ​Kusama.​ ​Courtesy​ ​of​ ​David Zwirner,​ ​New​ ​York;​ ​Ota​ ​Fine​ ​Arts,
Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai;​ ​Victoria​ ​Miro, London;​ ​YAYOI​ ​KUSAMA​ ​Inc.

The Infinity Net paintings on view at the gallery’s uptown location are the latest works in a series begun in New York in the 1950s, when Abstract Expressionism was still the dominant style. These canvases embodied a radical departure, featuring minutely painted nets across monochrome backgrounds. Donald Judd was an early admirer of these works and an exhibition currently on view at Judd Foundation on 101 Spring Street in New York presents four recent, white paintings from the series as part of a program that explores Judd’s relationship with his contemporaries in the 1960s through the 1980s (through December 9).

In 2018, David Zwirner Books will publish a fully illustrated exhibition catalogue with new scholarship by Jenni Sorkin.


Yayoi Kusama at David Zwirner
November 2 — December 16, 2017
 
Festival of Lights, 525 & 533 West 19th Street in Chelsea, New York
 
Infinity Nets, 34 East 69th Street on the Upper East Side, New York