In a portrait, Yayoi Kusama wears her signature polka dots.
In

Full Immersion

The Hirshhorn lauds Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama with iconic art and installations

Now 87, Yayoi Kusama has been creating avant-garde art since the 1960s, when she staged her infamous underground polka dot “happenings” on the streets of New York. Opening at the Hirshhorn Museum on February 23, “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” celebrates her unique body of work with more than 60 paintings, vibrant sculptures, whimsical installations—polka dot and otherwise—and works on paper.

Six of Kusama’s iconic mirror rooms will be showcased. Among them, Infinity Mirror Room—Love Forever (1966) recreates Kusama’s Peep Show, a series of experimental group performances originally staged at the artist’s Manhattan studio. The finale of the exhibit is The Obliteration Room (2002), an all-white living room turned into participatory artwork in which visitors are invited to cover every surface with dot stickers.

These immersive installations are interspersed with surrealist works on paper, semi-abstract paintings and collages made after Kusama, who has mental-health issues, returned to Japan in the early 1970s. She has been there ever since, working all the while in her Tokyo studio. She continues to be prolific: Large-scale paintings and soft sculptures she created within the last year will also be on display at the Hirshhorn.

The exhibit runs through May 14. Since each installation is meant to be experienced by a limited number of people at a time, free timed passes will be offered. Visit hirshhorn.si.edu for details.