Press Release

Yayoi Kusama: Narcissus Garden

NEW CANAAN, Conn. (May 2, 2016) – The Glass House is pleased to present Yayoi Kusama: Narcissus Garden, a landscape installation that will be on view throughout the 2016 tour season to celebrate the 110th anniversary of Philip Johnson’s birth and the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Glass House site to the public. First created fifty years ago in 1966 for the 33rd Venice Biennale, this iteration of Narcissus Garden will be incorporated into the Glass House’s 49-acre landscape.

“We are honored to be working with Yayoi Kusama, an artist Philip Johnson both admired and collected. This exhibition playfully engages the entire site, creating a celebratory mood for Philip Johnson’s 110th birthday and the 10th year since the opening of this museum,” said Irene Shum, Curator and Collections Manager at the Glass House.

Narcissus Garden, comprising 1,300 floating steel spheres, each approximately 12 inches in diameter (30 cm) will be installed in the Lower Meadow and forest, creating a dramatic view to the west of the Glass House. Drifting in the newly restored pond, the spheres will move with the wind and follow the pond’s natural currents, forming a kinetic sculpture. Their mirrored surfaces will reflect the surrounding Pond Pavilion (1962), wooded landscape, and sky.

The Glass House will also install Kusama’s recently created enormous steel PUMPKIN (2015).
The placement of PUMPKIN will be on the hillside meadow, east-northeast of the Brick House (1949), on a concrete sculpture footing where Ellsworth Kelly’s Curve II (1973) was once installed. “The first time I saw a pumpkin was in a farm in elementary school. In Japanese, a ‘pumpkin head’ is an ignorant man or a pudgy woman, but for me, I am charmed by its shape, form, and lack of pretension.” says the artist.

Dots Obsession – Alive, Seeking for Eternal Hope will be a special installation for a limited time, September 1 through 26, where Kusama will create an “infinity room” experience with the Glass House itself covered with polka dots. Visitors who attend the exhibition during this period will be offered the unique experience to simultaneously see the world through the eyes of both Philip Johnson and Yayoi Kusama. The Glass House’s window walls and doors allow the artist to create a one-of-a-kind signature “infinity room.” The polka dots directly engage the architecture of the Glass House, complementing its structure and aesthetics, breathing new life into the house. For Kusama, the polka dot represents an individual, its own universe. Similarly, Philip Johnson created his own private universe at the Glass House, sculpting every aspect of landscape experience into his own universe.

“My desire is to measure and to make order of the infinite, unbounded universe
from my own position within it, with polka dots. – In exploring this, the single dot
is my own life, and I am a single particle amongst billions. – I work with the principal
themes of infinity, self-image, and compulsive repetition in objects and forms, such
as the steel spheres of Narcissus Garden and the mirrored walls I have created.”

First created out of silver-colored plastic, Narcissus Garden was both a sculpture on display and a piece of performance art, as the artist sold the spheres to visitors for $2 each. Staked into the lawn were two signs stating: “NARCISSUS GARDEN, KUSAMA” and “YOUR NARCISSIUM [sic] FOR SALE.”

Versions of the sculpture have been included in traveling museum solo exhibitions as well as important international group exhibitions, including the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art at the Queensland Art Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane (2002); Whitney Biennial in Central Park, New York (2004); and Louvre’s Sculpture Programme for FIAC in the Jardin des Tuileries, Paris (2010); among others. The work has also been exhibited in institutions and historic residences, such as the Burle Marx Education and Cultural Center at the Instituto Inhotim, Minas Gerais, Brazil (2009) and the Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, England (2009).

Organized by Irene Shum, Curator and Collections Manager at the Glass House.

Special thanks to David Zwirner gallery and Ota Fine Arts. Funding for the dots installation and film program was provided by Joeb Moore & Partners Architects and Pettit Art Partners.

Special Tours:
Special exhibition tours will be offered throughout the season once a week. Visitors will access new areas of the property and have a closer experience to the artwork.
Dots Obsession – Alive, Seeking for Eternal Hope:
Private tours with the curator, Irene Shum, will be available during the special dot installation September 1 through 26th, 2016.

Public Programs:
Spring 2016 will offer a film workshop for the upcoming documentary Yayoi Kusama: A Life in Polka Dots, currently in post-production and to be released in fall 2016. Executive Producer Alice Koh and Submarine Entertainment’s David Koh will lead the discussion and take questions from the audience.

Fall 2016 will have a special performance by Ryuichi Sakamoto and alva noto, the composers of the original, Golden Globe-nominated, film score for the major motion picture The Revenant.

Yayoi Kusama’s work has transcended two of the most important art movements of the second half of the twentieth century: pop art and minimalism. Her extraordinary and highly influential career spans paintings, performances, room-size presentations, outdoor sculptural installations, literary works, films, fashion, design, and interventions within existing architectural structures, which allude at once to microscopic and macroscopic universes. Born in 1929 in Matsumoto, Japan, Kusama briefly studied painting in Kyoto before moving to New York City in the late 1950s. Kusama is represented by David Zwirner, New York, Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore, and Victoria Miro, London. In early 2013, Kusama was named the world’s most popular artist by various news outlets, based on museum exhibition attendance.

Work by the artist is held in museum collections worldwide, including the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Tate Gallery, London; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; amongst numerous others. Kusama lives and works in Tokyo.

The Glass House was built between 1949 and 1995 by architect Philip Johnson, the Glass House is a National Trust Historic Site located in New Canaan, CT. The pastoral 49-acre landscape comprises fourteen structures, including the Glass House (1949), and features a permanent collection of 20th century painting and sculpture, along with temporary exhibitions. The tour season runs from May through November and advance reservations are required. For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a privately funded nonprofit organization that works to save America’s historic places to enrich our future.

The Glass House For additional information:
199 Elm Street, New Canaan, CT 06840 Christa Carr, Director of Communications
203.594.9884 203.275.7565
Open Thursday – Monday, 9:30 am – 5:30 pm
Tickets start at $25, including a tour of the site.

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