narcissus garden: yayoi kusama at the glass house

The iconic Japanese artist recreates a landscape installation in Connecticut.

by Jack Sunnucks
04 May 2016, 1:40pm

The Glass House is a 49 acre art garden in New Canaan, Connecticut, that surrounds the titular glass house created by architect Philip Johnson at the end of the 50s. Throughout the garden, 14 structures interact with the rolling landscape and site specific installations. The latest creation is by the grande dame of spots, Yayoi Kusama, who in her over fifty year career has explored the outer reaches of the human psyche, female sexuality, and the chaos of being.

Narcissus Garden, first created in 1966 for the 33rd Venice Biennale, comprises 1,300 floating steel spheres, which float across the Glass House's Lower Meadow pond, like her infamous circle art had been poured onto the surface of the water. The Glass House is also installing her enormous steel PUMPKIN (2015), of which the artist says "The first time I saw a pumpkin was in a farm in elementary school. In Japanese, a 'pumpkin head' is an ignorant man or a pudgy woman, but for me, I am charmed by its shape, form, and lack of pretension."

For a limited time, the Glass House will also be covered in polka dots, the glass walls of the house creating something akin to the artist's infinity rooms, in a piece entitled Dots Obsession -- Alive, Seeking Eternal Hope.

Kusama's installations celebrate the site's tenth birthday, and the 110th birthday of Philip Johnson, its creator. This seems apt, as Kusama's work is so much about making sense of and containing time and space. Kusama elaborates "My desire is to measure and to make order of the infinite, unbounded universe from my own position within it, with polka dots. In exploring this, the single dot is my own life, and I am a single particle amongst billions. I work with the principal themes of infinity, self-image, and compulsive repetition in objects and forms, such as the steel spheres of Narcissus Garden and the mirrored walls I have created."

Yayoi Kusama: Narcissus Garden is on view until 30 November.


Text Jack Sunnucks
Image via KUSAMA Studio

Yayoi Kusama
art installation
the glass house