Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrored Room” Madness Takes Manhattan

Yayoi Kusama’s new mirrored-room installation has turned her exhibition at New York’s David Zwirner into one of the final “must see” art shows of the year. Beware the lines.

12.06.13 10:45 AM ET

December 4, 2013, New York, New Y0rk, United Sares: David Zwirner presents " I Who Have Arrived In Heaven," the gallery's inaugural exhibition with Yayoi Kusama. The exhibition features twenty seven new large scale paintings alongside a recent video installation and two mirrored infinity rooms. Kusama's work has transcended two of the most important art movements of the second half of the twentieth century: pop art and minimalism. The exhibit reflects the artist's long standing interest in cosmic realms and resonates with the autobiographical that runs through the artist's oeuvre. There are two "infinity rooms, " called " The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, " using hundreds of LED lights suspended from the ceiling, and " Love Is Calling," a kaleidoscopic darkened mirrored room illuminated by inflatable, tentacle-like-forms covered in polka dots. Also exhibited is " Manhattan Suicide Addict, " a recent video projection in which the artist is seen performing a song she composed while an animated slideshow moves behind her. This presentation of Kusama's work makes its United States debut. (Scott Houston/Polaris) (Newscom TagID: polphotos256628.jpg) [Photo via Newscom]

Scott Houston/Polaris via Newscom

Art galleries have always been a great escape for those looking to appreciate art while avoiding the throngs of spectators that tend to congregate at the major museum exhibitions.  But, the David Zwirner gallery in New York City is proving that may no longer be the case. 

On November 8, the contemporary art gallery’s 19th Street location opened its doors for the debut of Yayoi Kusama: I Who Have Arrived In Heaven. Within days people were lining the block.  But, they weren’t queuing up to see the paintings that lined the walls—there’s little to no wait for that portion of the exhibit.  Instead, the one to three hour wait is for a brief immersion inside the celestial Infinity Mirrored Room—The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away.

The gallery expected a big turnout, but after pictures from inside the reflective room began hitting social media, both locals and visitors started showing up in droves, turning the exhibition into one of the final “must see” art shows of the year.

Kaitlyn Bradford, 20, took time in between classes at New York University to experience the attraction with her roommates.  “We heard about it from friends after seeing their photos on Instagram,” she said.  “I missed the big rain show at MoMA because the lines were out of control, but I can manage an hour wait.”

Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama, has been known for decades for her use of bright colors and polka-dotted patterns (one of her earliest performance pieces made headlines when she took to the streets and painted polka dots on nude men and women).  Her paintings, sculptures, and video works have all been exhibited in major museums internationally.

More recently, though, her mirrored room installations have garnered all the attention.

Infinity Mirrored Room consists of roughly one hundred multicolored LED lights that pulsate at various speeds and patterns.  As they light up the entirely reflective room, a seemingly endless space is created, allowing a moment of contemplation and meditation.

“There is no way to describe it,” 28-year-old Jacob Steiner told The Daily Beast.  A resident of Brooklyn, Steiner has been able to attend New York’s most recent major immersive exhibitions, including Kusama’s Firefly on the Water installation at the Whitney Museum last year and Rain Room at the MoMA. “I became lost in time, in my thoughts.  It proved to be just as mesmerizing as I expected.”

‘Yayoi Kusama: I Who Have Arrived in Heaven’ will be on display at David Zwirner’s 19th Street gallery in Chelsea until December 21.