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CONTACT: Ruta Smithson (609) 258-3763
DATE: May 12, 2000
Japanese Artist Yayoi Kusama Featured at Princeton University Art Museum
Exhibition Dates: May 9 through July 30, 2000
PRINCETON -- An exhibition of over sixty works on paper and two sculptures by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama is on view at The Art Museum, Princeton University, through July 30, 2000. "Yayoi Kusama: Early Drawings from the Collection of Richard Castellane, Class of 1955" surveys the brightly colored, highly patterned, and visually saturated works of this recently rediscovered revolutionary artist. The works are drawn from the collection of Richard Castellane, a New York gallery owner who organized three important Kusama exhibitions in the mid 1960s.
"I first visited Kusama at her New York studio in the early 1960s," notes Castellane. "Coming as I was from a traditional background in art, I was totally unprepared for Kusama's work. The most startling thing about her work was that her paintings, compositions, and sculptures were clearly expanding on the vaious ways that artists had traditionally addressed space. It was as if Kusama was geared to creating an entirely new element of artistic composition, namely infinity -- compositions that had no beginning, no middle, no end."
Kusama came to prominence in the New York art world during the 1960s. As a result of her turbulent home life and post-war stress, Kusama developed a psychological disorder, often referred to as obsessional neurosis. Feeling ostracized from the rigid hierarchial society of Japan, Kusama left her homeland in search of artistic freedom. She arrived in America in 1958, carrying with her an assortment of some 2,000 watercolors and drawings. By 1962 she had participated in a wide variety of gallery and museum exhibitions both in the United States and Europe, exhibiting primarily Infinity Net paintings and related works on paper. In 1965 and 1966, however, Kusama's exhibitions "Floor Show," "Driving Image Show," and "Infinity Mirror Room" at the Castellane Gallery in New York marked the most forceful presentation of the artist's obsessional imagery and launched her optically ensconcing Accumulation sculpture.
Kusama's preferred media included pen and ink, tempera, watercolor, acrylic, and pastel. The intimate, psychically charged works on paper she produced from the early 1950s through the mid-1960s revealed Kusama's vibrant embrace of life's undulating currents. Her early drawings and watercolors articulate motifs and forms that fully anticipate the Net and Dot paintings of her early New York years and also the formal concerns of her installation art. Kusama's Net and Dot paintings all contain her signature
motif--carefully controlled patterns of polka dots and interlinked webs of rhythmically painted linear networks. As she expanded her creative repertoire throughout the 1960s, she often reworked older drawings she had brought with her from Japan. Kusama frequently painted fluorescent nets on top of earlier orb drawings, inserted dots, unleashed pulsing new patterns, or even imposed synthetic netting over the entire surface of previous works.
While some of the pieces included in the exhibition are unaltered works dating from the early 1950s, others display the artist's penchant for expanding and elaborating her expressive reach. The works in the collection of Richard Castellane comprehensively span the formal range of Kusama's inventiveness and offer a sustained overview of her multifarious techniques. The exhibition was organized by the Birmingham Museum of Art.
The Art Museum is open to the public without charge. Free highlights tours of the collection are given every Saturday at 2:00 p.m. The Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and on Sunday from
1:00 to 5:00 p.m. It is closed on Monday and major holidays. The Museum Shop closes at 5:00 p.m.
The Museum is located in the middle of the Princeton University campus. Picasso's large sculpture Head of a Woman stands in front. For further information, please call (609) 258-3788.
LECTURE: Friday, May 26, at 4:00 p.m., McCosh 10, Princeton University campus, "The Art of Yayoi Kusama" Dr. Davis Moos, curator of painting and sculpture, Birmingham Museum of Art.