Yayoi Kusama Applies Her ‘Dot Obsession’ to Philip Johnson’s Glass House
Architecture & Interiors
The Japanese Conceptual artist Yayoi Kusama’s preoccupation with dots has been whimsically projected onto a legendary Mid Century icon: Philip Johnson’s Glass House. Marking the occasion of what would have been the architect’s 110th birthday this past July, Kusama has bedecked the entire exterior of the house with an arrangement of her signature red dots. Dots Obsession – Alive, Seeking for Eternal Hope, an installation which opened on September 1, will be on view only through September 26th, completing a trio of site-specific Kusama works on the property, dating back to the spring.
Yayoi Kusama has decorated everything, from department store windows to clothing to George Clooney, with her dot compositions, but few of her canvases (Clooney included) have been as famous—for as long—as Johnson’s iconic Glass House, completed in 1949. And, one can argue, few are more suited to her work. The house’s pure geometry and near-total transparency offers a markedly different kind of immersive experience from the artist’s ethereal “infinity room” gallery installations, allowing visitors to, according to the Glass House committee, “simultaneously see the world through the eyes of both Philip Johnson and Yayoi Kusama,”
The installation of Yayoi Kusama’s Dots Obsession was a long-distance affair, with the elderly artist dispatching a team from Japan to complete the project, armed with vinyl red dots in 3 sizes, and exacting instructions from her for each dot’s placement. Applied piece by piece via scaffolding, the dots adorn the four glass sides of the house, including its doors, turning Philip Johnsons’s Glass House into, appropriately enough, a gaily wrapped modernist gift.
At 87, the once reclusive Yayoi Kusama has never been more prolific, feted with retrospectives at the world’s most famous museums—including London’s Tate Modern and New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art—over the last decade. Of her most famous motif, she has said, ‘A polka-dot has the form of the sun, which is a symbol of the energy of the whole world and our living life, and also the form of the moon, which is calm. Round, soft, colorful, senseless and unknowing. Polka-dots become movement … Polka dots are a way to infinity.’