Edge

Frantic Hallucinations at the Bass Museum: The intense world of Yayoi Kusama

Japanese-born artist Yayoi Kusama once described her art as “psychosomatic.” Indeed, her work–a selection of which is currently on display at the Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach–is a fanatically brilliant expression of visions that have haunted her since childhood. Kusama’s creations vary in medium but all share a common theme of obsession, repetition and accumulation.

Although it is moderate in size, the Bass exhibit shows a wide spectrum of Kusama’s work. Beginning with a collection of polka-dotted paintings, it then meanders past a sea of writhing white snake-like arms (that seem to intend upon enveloping the floor space), and ends in a room lined with giant statues of Venus “obliterated by infinity nets.”

A couch frame covered by hundreds of white phallic forms is what Kusama calls “aggregation-sculptures.” The phallus, a form that is used consistently by the artist, echos her obsession and attempt to master her fear of the penis. Behind the couch, adding to the intrigue and shock value, is a picture of Kusama, naked, lying on the couch.

In the center of the second room, surrounded by the multicolored Venus statues, sits a giant six-sided structure made of mirrors. As people walk around it, they can see themselves reflected with the Venus statues in the background. In this way, the observer experiences his or her self as being connected with, or part of, the art. The inside of the mirrored structure is also in the exhibit. There is a small rectangle cut into one side, just large enough to peer into as the eyes are overwhelmed and dazzled by a series lights, flashing Vegas-style in a repetitive pattern. The walls mirror each other and create the sense of infinity. Perhaps this visual experience is similar to what Kusama experiences in her “visions.”

Kusama is a master of self-promotion and has a knack for grabbing the attention of both the art world and the public at large. Tucked away in a corner is a small television playing one of her self-made videos from the 1960s, an example of such self-promotion tools. It documents some of her projects, which include what she refers to as “happenings,” which were public displays of nudity occurring in places like Central Park and the New York Stock Exchange. Sometimes the artist used naked bodies like canvases and covered them with polka dots; at other times, nudes were used to draw attention to Kusama’s political protests.

Producing an excellent sense of Kusama’s world, each piece is an articulation of her frantic, obsessive visions; each is an attempt to free her mind of the plaguing patterns and hallucinations by translating them into a tangible form. It’s amazing and intriguing. Go experience it for yourself.

Yayoi Kusama works are on display at the Bass Museum of Art, 2121 Park Ave., Miami Beach, until May 11. Call 305-673-7530 for more info.

Liz Johnson can be reached at lizy_mcsaucy@hotmail.com

March 7, 2003

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

A six-pack of Canes notes on a Thursday: • Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has an interesting theor ...

Juwan Dowels vividly remembers his first winter on the Syracuse University campus. Like the other 11 ...

The University of Miami football team has another player with a season-ending injury — and this one ...

University of Miami men’s basketball coach Jim Larrañaga received a grand jury subpoena for his phon ...

Get ready for an avalanche of University of Miami defensive backs and linemen descending on the Hard ...

Univeristy of Miami’s Wynwood Art Gallery holds its annual faculty exhibition featuring thought-prov ...

From a game simulating how whales navigate to a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, the U showcased some of ...

A new mobile game called Blues and Reds, now available worldwide, aims to help researchers study int ...

A major Lancet Commission report, a three-year project headed by UM’s Professor Felicia Knaul and co ...

With a $6.8 million NIH grant, the UM School of Nursing and Health Studies and FIU Robert Stempel Co ...

Here are three matchups to watch Saturday as the Hurricanes take on the Syracuse Orange at Hard Rock ...

The University of Miami men's basketball team will begin the season as No. 12 in the USA TODAY ...

As a Hurricane Club member, you are invited to participate in the 25th Annual University of Miami Ha ...

The University of Miami volleyball team returns home this weekend to host Atlantic Coast Conference ...

The Hurricanes will look to slow down an inspired Syracuse team at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday. ...

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.