It’s pretty difficult to miss two piers of art installations while walking down 12th Avenue. That means it’s time for that annual event known as The Armory Show that has been tantalizing New Yorkers since 1913.
Inspiration however is hard to find especially when you have to search for your favorite artists in over 250,000 square feet of exhibition space. Yet I persisted looking for my favorite artist Yayoi Kusama and was rewarded by seeing her characteristic polka dots in an installation called Guidepost To The New World. When I finally saw those red, funny shaped sculptures laid down on artificial grass, I felt at peace! Suddenly you fit into Kusama’s “Polka Dot” world! Kusama loves polka dots (who doesn’t?) and she goes beyond different with her artistic vision.
All of this came from her hallucinations back in the day. When she first moved to New York in 1958 she wanted to become famous and gained notoriety for painting polka dots on naked people and succeeded for a while. Her works were exhibited next to Warhol, Oldenburg and Segal. Yet by the 70s, broke and destitute she placed herself in to a Tokyo Mental Hospital. After being rediscovered in the 1990s, she made a comeback and in 1996 her work was exhibited at Cooper.
It’s ironic that her polka dots installation was exhibited the same week that archaeologists uncovered 16 limestone tablets left behind by prehistoric artists in the Abri Cellier, a cave site in France’s Vezere Valley. It’s dated to be 38,000 years old! Images of mammoths and other ancient animals were depicted on the stone by using – you guessed it – polka dots. Archeologists call this pointillism.
Kusama had an unusual take on painting pumpkins. When you look at it you get a feeling that the whole world moves around you. It’s almost like it helps us reach up to the universe. The pumpkin motif was very important in Kusama’s life as her storehouse was always full of them when she was growing up.
Welcome to Kusama’s world. This painting titled Flames looks like a hospital full of angry, bloody sperm. Yet, it does not bother you. You want to come into her world and see more, more of her insanity, which she beautifully exposes in art.
All of these Yayoi Kusama art pieces presented at the Armory Show were great to see but I was surprised that they did not feature more of her better works that clearly would have stood out more. After all, in 2015, she was named one of the top 10 Living Artists. Overall the Armory Show is a marvelous annual celebration of art and creativity and should not be missed. I am looking forward to next year’s installations. There are always surprises.
– Justyna Kostek, NY Arts