Review

Yayoi Kusama at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art

Marta Wiktoria Bryll 22 March 2022 min Read

Have you ever seen the magical Infinity Rooms? If you happen to be living or visiting Tel Aviv between November 2021 and April 2022, you’re in luck. Last autumn, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art opened a huge Yayoi Kusama: A Retrospective – so popular that the tickets are already sold out until the end of the show.

A Bouquet of Love I Saw in the Universe

Yayoi Kusama: A Retrospective is a comprehensive exhibition of works by the contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama; open in Tel Aviv Museum of Art until 23 April 2022. The show was created in collaboration with Gropius Bau, Berlin, and quickly became the cultural highlight of the Israeli autumn with tickets already sold out for all the remaining time-slots. Make sure to book your spot – and prepare to spend some time fully immersing yourself in the artist’s magical world of polka dots.

Yayoi Kusama, Installation view, retrospective at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

Installation view: Yayoi Kusama, THE SPIRITS OF THE PUMPKINS DESCENDED INTO THE HEAVENS, 2015, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts.

The Eternally Infinite Light of the Universe 

Just one look at the installation view is enough to understand why Yayoi Kusama is one of the most frequently tagged living artists on Instagram. And trust me, even if you visit the museum just for a good cultural selfie, a solid walk through the exhibition will pull you into the crazy stories behind Kusama’s works. What are the main things you should know about this artist?

Yayoi Kusama, born in 1929 in Japan, started on her artistic path quite early, with the polka-dot motif present in her earliest childhood artworks. She started with studying traditional Japanese painting styles, focusing on more westernized yōga style; and in the 1950s (encouraged by Georgia O’Keeffe herself) she moved to the United States where her avant-garde career started flourishing. A true multimedia artist, Kusama worked with painting, collages, sculpture, fashion, and held numerous avant-garde parties and performances; truly realizing herself in large-scale installations such as the famous (and very instagrammable) Infinity Rooms.

Yayoi Kusama, Installation view, retrospective at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

Installation view: Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Mirror Room – Phalli’s Field, 1965, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Victoria Miro, David Zwirner.

Illuminating the Quest for Truth

This large-scale (over 3,000-square meters) exhibition presents 250 artworks, divided into different periods of Kusama’s life. After visiting all the installations, spread throughout Tel Aviv Museum’s multiple pavilions, you will certainly be able to say you really know the artist. Every detail is worth the attention – from the artworks’ background stories, through the poetic titles, and multiple repeating patterns. Repetition and patterns are a shared theme in all of the pieces. They’re all open to your interpretation: whether you read into the Buddhist self-obliteration theory, Kusama’s struggles with mental health, ghosts of traditional Japanese art, or simply call it a psychedelic experience.

Yayoi Kusama, Installation view, retrospective at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

Installation view: Yayoi Kusama, Women of Shangri-La, 2002. Photo by Elad Karig/Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

The Spirits Of Pumpkins Descended into Heavens

Apart from presenting a look at Kusama’s artistic evolution, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art gives its audience a chance to see some of contemporary art’s definite must-sees. Among them: the famous glossy pumpkin sculptures, the Narcissus Garden installation, reflecting the gallery surroundings (and you!), the crazy fashion items from Kusama’s macaroni pasta phase; and what we all came here for – the Infinity Rooms. Note that you will only have 30 seconds to view these, so come prepared with your camera on. One of the Infinity Rooms as well as a large-scale installation were prepared especially for this retrospective.

Yayoi Kusama Installation view, Tel Aviv Museum of Arts

Installation view: Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Mirrored Room — Love Forever, 1966/94, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts.

Yayoi Kusama: Retrospective at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Exhibition Information

The Yayoi Kusama: A Retrospective is running at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art from 15 Nov 2021​ until ​23 Apr 2022. Tickets need to be booked in advance on the museum’s website. Note that the visit includes standing in line for several installations.

The exhibition is organized by Gropius Bau, Berlin, in collaboration with the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

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