Yayoi Kusama had a breakthrough in 1965 when she produced Infinity Mirror Room—Phalli’s Field. Using mirrors, she transformed the intense repetition of her earlier paintings and works on paper into a perceptual experience.
Over the course of her career, the artist has produced more than twenty distinct Infinity Mirror Rooms, and the Hirshhorn’s exhibition—the first to focus on this pioneering body of work—is presenting six of them, the most ever shown together. Ranging from peep-show-like chambers to multimedia installations, each of Kusama’s kaleidoscopic environments offers the chance to step into an illusion of infinite space. The rooms also provide an opportunity to examine the artist’s central themes, such as the celebration of life and its aftermath.
By tracing the development of these iconic installations alongside a selection of her other key artworks, Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors aims to reveal the significance of the Infinity MIrror Rooms amidst today’s renewed interest in experiential practices and virtual spaces.
Infinity Mirror Room—Phalli's Field
Stuffed cotton, board, and mirrors
Collection of the artist
Kusama spent much of her time between 1962 and 1964 sewing thousands of stuffed fabric tubers and grafting them to furniture and found objects to create her Accumulation sculptures. She exhibited the works together in an attempt to create hallucinatory scenes of phallic surfaces but found the labor involved in making them physically and mentally taxing. In response to the labor intensity of this work, she started to utilize mirrors to achieve similar repetition. Infinity Mirror Room— Phalli’ s Field was perhaps the most important breakthrough for Kusama during this immensely fruitful period. The reflective surfaces allowed her vision to transcend the physical limitations of her own productivity. Furthermore, the mirrors created a participatory experience by casting the visitor as the subject of the work, a feature that the artist demonstrated through a provocative series of self-portraits in which she used her body to activate the space. This work first appeared in the exhibition Floor Show, held at Castellane Gallery, in New York, in 1965.