In 1966, at the 33rd Venice Biennale, Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama famously went rogue. Clad in a gold kimono, Kusama started selling off the 1,500 mirrored glass balls in her installation to visitors for 1200 Lire per piece. The Biennale organizers eventually put an end to her enterprise, but Narcissus Garden has become one her most famous works, exhibited recently at the Whitney Biennial in Central Park in 2004 and at the Jardin de Tuileries in Paris in 2010.
Now, the installation has been adapted specifically for the 49-acre landscape of architect Philip Jonson’s Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut, where it will be on view through November. For the installation, Kusama created 1,300 stainless steel spheres, 11 inches in diameter, that drift freely along the site’s heart-shaped pond.
Built in 1949, the Glass House was opened to the public in 2007, two years after Jonson’s death, by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This year, the foundation finished restoring the pond, located on the west side of the house, and decided to highlight it with a site-specific exhibition. “We thought, what artist can hold this space? Whose art will not disappear and get lost in this landscape?” says Irene Shum, curator and collections manager at the Glass House. “Yayoi Kusama is the one that immediately came to mind.”
After Kusama agreed, Shum sent her a drawing of the pond and she chose the size of the spheres and the number to produce, then had them manufactured in Japan and shipped to Connecticut by sea freight. Unlike the balls in her 1966 installation, which were made of mirrored plastic, the Glass House spheres are stainless steel and reflect the concrete pavilion from 1962 at the edge of the pond. Inside the house, the installation is visible through the western view, or what Shum calls the “privileged view,” designed to show off over half of the acreage of the land. “It’s beautiful, very meditative, to see these spheres move on their own,” says Shum. “Everything about the view is very meditative.”
The installation will be on view through November 30, 2016, along with Kusama’s PUMPKIN installation on the east side of the property. The artist also created an infinity room for the Glass House, titled Dots Obsession-Alive, seeking for Eternal Hope, on view from September 1-26, 2016.
All Photos: courtesy of The Glass House