Yayoi Kusama

July 12–Sept 30, 2012

Well known for her use of dense patterns of polka dots and nets, as well as her intense, large-scale environments, Yayoi Kusama works in a variety of media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, film, performance, and immersive installation. Born in Japan in 1929, Kusama came to the United States in 1957 and quickly found herself at the epicenter of the New York avant-garde. After achieving fame through groundbreaking exhibitions and art “happenings,” she returned to her native country in 1973 and is now one of Japan’s most prominent contemporary artists. This retrospective features works spanning Kusama’s career.

Kusama’s Fireflies on the Water is being shown in the Museum’s Lobby Gallery in conjunction with the Yayoi Kusama retrospective. Timed tickets are required to view Fireflies on the Water and can only be reserved on the day of your visit at the admission desk. 

This exhibition is organized in collaboration with Tate Modern, London.

Supported by

Additional support for the Whitney’s presentation of Yayoi Kusama is provided by Carla Emil and Rich Silverstein, The Gage Fund, Susan Hancock/Royal T, the Juliet Lea Hillman Simonds Foundation, the Asian Cultural Council, The Japan Foundation, New York, and Linda and Andrew Safran.

With thanks to Victoria Miro Gallery, London; Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo; and Yayoi Kusama Studio, Inc. for their support of the international tour of the Yayoi Kusama exhibition.

Additional thanks to Gagosian Gallery for their assistance with the Yayoi Kusama exhibition in New York.


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Audio guides

This audio guide features selected works from Yayoi Kusama and the artist's installation, Fireflies on the Water.

View guide

Explore works from this exhibition
in the Whitney's collection

View 3 works

In the News

Review: “Vivid Hallucinations From a Fragile Life
The New York Times

"[Kusama's] works are triumphant, humorous celebrations of potential, vulnerability and defiance"
—The Boston Globe

"Kusama’s is a wonderful behind-the-music story, the outsider with destiny in her sights, who moves to the big city to prove herself, then collapses under the strain of striving, only to stage a comeback, bigger than ever."
New York Magazine

Video: Mo Rocca interviews Yayoi Kusama
CBS Sunday Morning

"Fame Becomes Her"
W Magazine

In celebration of her retrospective at the Whitney Museum, Yayoi Kusama transformed two downtown Manhattan sites near the Whitney’s future home in the Meatpacking District.

On view through October 15, Kusama's Yellow Trees building wrap transforms a tall building into a giant canvas. The scrim at 345 West 14th Street at 9th Avenue features a detail of the original painting Yellow Trees (1994), greatly enlarged so that its powerful sinuous patterns envelop the new twelve-story construction project.

From early summer through September 25, visitors to Hudson River Park's Pier 45 enjoyed Kusama's vibrant multi-part installation, Guidepost to the New Space. Bright red polka-dotted forms nestled in the grass like a herd of otherworldly abstractions, transforming the pier and its spectacular urban skyline.

Support for Yellow Trees provided by DDG Partners. Support for Guidepost to the New Space provided by Gagosian Gallery New York and Hudson River Park Trust.