Contemporary art

Kusama makes a comeback with three concurrent exhibitions this Summer

Zwirner turns his gallery into a sports bar for the World Cup

o After years of relative obscurity in Japan, the sixty-nine-year old artist Yayoi Kusama is receiving an overdue celebration with three concurrent exhibitions in New York this summer. In collaboration with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, MoMA will present “Yayoi Kusama in New York: 1958-68”. The exhibition presents painting, drawing, collage, sculpture and installation produced by Kusama in New York during her most influential years in the US. Kusama returned to Japan in the early 1970s where she now lives and works. In New York she was part of the Pop art scene with Claes Oldenburg and Andy Warhol although her repetitive forms and grid-like structures suggested an interest in minimalism. The artist’s phallic sculptural forms and nude live performances—which were perceived at the time to be “happenings”—are now considered precursors for body and performance art and are also credited with introducing a woman’s perspective. Peter Blum Gallery shows works by Kusama from the 1950s made prior to her arrival in the US when she worked almost exclusively on works on paper in pastel, gouache, or ink. These small drawings contain an obsessive repetition of form. Prices range from $12,000 to $15,000. Robert Miller Gallery will show a selection of earlier sculpture and installations, as well as a new series of paintings. In 1993 Kusama was selected to represent Japan at the Venice Biennale, the first time a solo artist was featured in the Japanese pavilion. Prices range from $5,000 to $85,000 with a twenty-foot wall installation at $150,000.

o The relaxed atmosphere of summer has inspired some lighthearted gallery shows. At David Zwirner the artists Franz West and Heimo Zobernig have created another collaborative work like the café they made last summer for Documenta X. This time they have recreated the café and added a bar for Zwirner’s gallery. The bar/gallery will screen World Cup games for soccer-starved Europeans in New York.

o A joint show by Leslie Tonkonow Artworks and Bound and Unbound will present impermanent art. The show of over thirty artists includes objects, actions, interactive works, and site-specific installations that will dematerialise throughout the course of the show. “Disappearing act” also includes a section documenting the history of ephemeral art from the 1960s on. Among the works presented are: fading solar photographs by Barbara Ess, edible works by Joan Bankemper (who grew lettuce in a bowl for salad) and Alison Knowles (who gave out soup at the opening), Lawrence Weiner’s “Nay em i bllong yumi” (Papua New Guinean for “Art belongs to everyone”) stencilled on the floor; the unfixed photographic announcement for Yoko Ono’s retrospective in 1971, and James Lee Byars’ “Dissolvo” paper ephemera and documentation of his “Dissolving man” event of 1967. Prices range from free—for some of the food—to $10,000.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Kusama makes a comeback'