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23 August – 19 October 2008
The Mirrored Years exhibition of work by the celebrated Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama confronts early installations, films and sculptures from the 1960s with recent works. The exhibition reveals the coherence of Kusama's oeuvre over the years while at the same time highlighting the freshness and innovative nature of certain themes explored in her work. Working in a highly idiosyncratic formal idiom and exploiting many different techniques, Kusama's work is the product of a lifelong interest in visual perception and sensory experiences.
Mirrored Years demonstrates the abiding force of Yayoi Kusama. The juxtaposition of renowned installations such as the 'Infinity Mirror Room – Phalli's Field' (1965) or 'Narcissus Garden' (1966) with recent mirror installations such as 'Fireflies on the Water' and 'Invisible Life' (2000) as well as new sculptures such as 'Soaring Spirits' (2008-2009) provides insight into a career spanning more than 40 years. Besides the abovementioned works, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is presenting various other sculptures, films and happenings created by Kusama in the 1960s in conjunction with comparable works from recent years. The museum is also showing Kusama's most recent work: an installation of 50 new paintings that she has been producing assiduously over the last three years.
Yayoi Kusama appeared on the international art scene in the 1960s with much panache, shortly after moving from Japan to New York. She established her name with her enormous 'Infinity Net' paintings and her gallery-filling installations, which ensconce the visitor in thousands of colourful little stuffed textile protrusions – often phallus-like. Kusama's fame also spread thanks to the succès de scandale surrounding her public happenings, which have included men and women performing naked in the streets of New York. Yayoi Kusama was embraced by all the important American artists of the era: Pop Artists such as Claes Oldenburg and Andy Warhol, leading American Abstractionists such as Barnett Newmann and Mark Rothko, and artists of a younger generation such as Donald Judd and Dan Flavin.
In 1962, Yayoi Kusama was the only female artist to take part in the widely acclaimed 'Nul' (Zero) international group exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. She has exhibited alongside European artists including Lucio Fontana, Pol Bury, Otto Piene and Gunther Uecker, as well as with artists from the Dutch Nul group (closely aligned with the German Zero movement), such as Jan Schoonhoven and Henk Peeters. Yayoi Kusama was a regular exhibitor on the Dutch art scene in the 1960s and '70s. She developed a close friendship with Henk Peeters and Jan Schoonhoven and in those days she exercised considerable influence on the development of Dutch art.
In 1973, mental health problems prompted Kusama to return to Japan, where she continued to play a prominent role in the world of art. In the West she gradually disappeared from the radar until about a decade ago, when a new art public became acquainted with her work. Working across several disciplines, Kusama continues to develop an increasingly diverse, rich and multilayered oeuvre. Her interest in sensory experiences and space-filling installations combined with her radical and obsessive history has had a marked impact on a number of prominent trends in contemporary art. Her work strikes a chord with modern-day artists as much as with fashion designers such as Marc Jacobs and pop musicians such as Peter Gabriel.
14 September: exclusive pre-premiere screening of the documentary, 'Near Equal: Kusama Yayoi – I Adore Myself' by Matsumoto Takako.
5 October: lecture by the curator Jaap Guldemond about Kusama's work. The artist Henk Peeters talks about his encounter with Kusama in the early 1960s.
The Mirrored Years exhibition has been realised with the support of the Mondriaan Foundation and the Japan Foundation in the Netherlands.
Curated by Jaap Guldemond, (Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam) Franck Gautherot, Kim Seungduk (Le Consortium, Dijon).
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