Word on the Street: Yayoi Kusama at Gropius Bau

vor 3 years

We heard it through the grapevine… and you will hear it here first:

Late last month the yet most complex and immersive retrospective on the works of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama opened at Gropius Bau Berlin. The artist’s first-ever institutional retrospective in Germany „Yayoi Kusama: A Retrospective – A Bouquet of Love I Saw in the Universe“ spans over 3000 m² and shows almost 300 works from the last 80 years of Kusama’s groundbreaking career.

One of the exhibition’s highlights is the expansive work A Bouquet of Love I Saw in the Universe (2021) that has been created especially for the museum’s historic atrium and fills the space with huge, surging tentacles for the duration of the exhibition. The impressive pink mega installation has by now not only conquered the huge space in the heart of the museum, but also most of our instagram feeds and advertising pillars all over Berlin, bestowing the city’s empty streets with a vivid and hopeful vibe. A Bouquet of Love from the artist to the people of Berlin it seems.

"Yayoi Kusama's artistic position is characterized by revolutionary interventions that are carried by both the desire for a complete union of body and work of art and a redefinition of the role of women in art.“ Stephanie Rosenthal, Director, Gropius Bau

The exhibition includes gouaches on paper, accumulative sculptures, happenings and fashion as well as late paintings and a new infinity mirror room (which are one of the artist’s signature works) that is showcased right next to a reconstruction of Kusama’s first mirror room that she presented in New York in 1965. The 60s mirror room is not the only reconstruction found in the Gropius Bau selection: Eight more reconstructed pieces from the time span of 1952 to 1983 are included in the exhibition as well, focussing on Kusama’s less explored activities in Europe and highlight a more performative character to her work. Kusama’s innovative way of self-presentation and strategies to participate in her own works can be interpreted as a predecessor of social media tendencies, making her a pioneer of selfie-culture if one will. Always in the center of Kusama’s doings and aspirations is to redefine the role of the woman in art.

The Japanese artist born in 1929 first started gaining international acclaim in the 70s and is now one of the best-known artists world wide. In her works she always includes her own body. Integrating her own presence in the performance is Kusama’s way of emotionalizing and merging herself with art. An approach that enables viewers to empathize with Kusama’s works immersively.

The exhibition has been curated by the museum’s director Stephanie Rosenthal in close cooperation with the artist herself and her studio in Tokio. The show draws from the artist’s personal archive. Since the museum is currently closed to the public, we are lucky enough to get a digital tour through Yayoi Kusama’s retrospective here.

Words by Ann-Kathrin Lietz

Images Gropius Bau Berlin

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