Curated by Philip Larratt-Smith and Frances Morris
Malba – Fundación Costantini is pleased to announce Yayoi Kusama: Infinite Obsession, the first in-depth survey of the work of one of the most original and inventive artists of the postwar period to be presented in Latin America. Organized by Malba – Fundación Costantini and curated by Philip Larratt-Smith (Deputy Chief Curator, Malba, Buenos Aires) and Frances Morris (curator of Kusama’s retrospective at Tate Modern, London) in collaboration with the artist’s studio, the exhibition offers an in-depth survey of the work of the most prominent living Japanese artist through over 100 carefully chosen works from 1950 to 2013, including paintings, works on paper, sculptures, videos, slideshows, and installation works.
Yayoi Kusama: Infinite Obsession traces the trajectory of this maverick figure from private to public, painting to performance, studio to street. Yayoi Kusama (1929, Matsumoto) began making poetic and semi-abstract works on paper in the 1940s before commencing her celebrated Infinity Net series in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Her move to New York in 1957 was a watershed event for the artist, bringing her into contact with Donald Judd, Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, and Joseph Cornell. Her painterly practice gave way to soft sculptures, known as Accumulations, and then to live performances and happenings that became a staple of the downtown subculture and won the artist mainstream attention and notoriety. In 1973 Kusama returned to Japan, and since 1977 she has voluntarily lived in a psychiatric institution. The pronounced and singular psychological character of her work has always been matched by a range of formal innovation and reinvention that allows her to share her singular vision with a wide public through infinitely mirrored space and the obsessively repeated dots for which she is best known. In her most recent works, the artist has renewed contact with her most radical instincts in immersive installations and collaborative pieces.
Yayoi Kusama: Infinite Obsession will be accompanied by a major publication in bilingual Spanish-English and Portuguese-English editions. The catalogue features two original scholarly essays: Morris’s “Yayoi Kusama: ‘My Life, a Dot,’” a magisterial account of Kusama’s artistic development, and Larratt-Smith’s “Song of a Suicide Addict,” a psychoanalytic reading of the psychic mechanisms behind Kusama’s art. This landmark book also includes a full-colour plate section of the exhibition checklist and a visual chronology of the artist’s life.
To coincide with the exhibition and highlight the importance of Kusama’s literary production, Malba will also be publishing the first Spanish-language translation of three of Kusama’s novels (Hustlers Grotto of Christopher Street, Death Smell Acacia, and the hitherto unpublished Double Suicide on Cherry Hill) in partnership with the independent publishing house Mansalva.
Yayoi Kusama: Infinite Obsession will travel to the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil in Rio de Janeiro and Brasília, the Instituto Tomie Ohtake in São Paulo, and the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. The exhibition consolidates Malba’s position as the regional leader in organizing international exhibitions of the most important and influential figures of postwar and contemporary art, and reaffirms the institution’s commitment to an original and challenging curatorial platform.