Seeing spots at Yayoi Kusama

The Yayoi Kusama exhibition closed yesterday at the Whitney Museum but luckily Soda Jeane mentioned it was the last weekend so I got myself over there.  I read the profile of Kusama in New York magazine in July but I forgot about the show.  I like her work and she’s lived an amazing life but I wanted more from the show.  There was a nice selection of her early paintings and watercolors, letters, a row-boat, chairs and shoes covered with the phallic shaped forms she’s known for, paintings with her spots and crazy detailed patterns, but as I walked through the galleries I hoped to see something really great.  There were beautiful paintings and I chuckled here and there but nothing grabbed me.

I realized that the heavy PR that Louis Vuitton (exhibition sponsors) did for their collaboration with Kusama had colored my expectations.  Having seen the Kusama x Louis Vuitton collection I expected to see the same eye-popping, graphic work at the Whitney.  They distilled her repetitive spots into covet-worthy bags, wallets, shoes, key fobs and clothes.  Obviously there’s more to Kusama than just decorating accessories but you only got a glimpse of that in her retrospective.  I do want to read her autobiography because her time in New York seems interesting and provocative.

I do want to go back and see her Fireflies on the Water, on view until October 28.  It’s one of her small, mirrored rooms with thousands of little lights.  You walk onto a platform over a pool of water and just hang out.  It sounds a million times better than the glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling of my room in high school.

Fireflies on the Water, 2002. Courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art

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