“Infinity Net: The Autobiography of Yayoi Kusama”

A book group especially for art enthusiasts.

February 17, 2022 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm At the Museum and virtually on Zoom

"Infinity Net: The Autobiography of Yayoi Kusama," by Yayoi Kusama, translated by Ralph McCarthy

Welcome to Museum Reads, the Newport Art Museum’s Art-Themed book group for adults. We meet monthly, at the Museum and virtually, for discussion, and frequently are joined by the author.

In conjunction with the Winter Speaker Series lecture by Karen Daubmann on the New York Botanical Garden’s recent grand exhibition of Yayoi Kusama’s work, we selected her autobiography for our February book to learn more about this enigmatic artist.

In 1957, encouraged by Georgia O’Keeffe, artist Yayoi Kusama left Japan for New York City to become a star. By the time she returned to her home country in 1973, she had established herself as a leader of New York’s avant-garde movement, known for her public protests of the Vietnam War and for the polka dots that had become a trademark of her work. Her sculptures, videos, paintings, and installations are to this day included in major international exhibitions.

Infinity Net paints a multilayered portrait of this fascinating artist. Taking us from her oppressive childhood in postwar Japan to her present life in the psychiatric hospital where she voluntarily stays—and is still productive—Kusama’s autobiography offers insight into the persona of mental illness that has informed her work. While she vibrantly describes the hallucinatory episodes she experiences, her tale is punctuated by stories of her pluck and drive in making her artistic voice heard. Conveying the breadth and ambition of her own work, Kusama also offers a dazzling snapshot of 1960s and 1970s New York City and her encounters with its artists—she collaborates with Andy Warhol, shares an apartment with Donald Judd, and becomes romantically entangled with Joseph Cornell. Replete with the sense of the sheer necessity within an artist to create, Infinity Net is an energetic and juicy page-turner that offers a glimpse into Kusama’s exhilarating world.

Museum Reads Notes:
Be sure to register to receive email updates and Zoom links.
For last minute registrations, please call the front desk for the Zoom link at 401-848-8200.

We are delighted that special guest Karen Daubmann, who is our Winter Speaker Series lecturer on February 5, will join us virtually to discuss Yayoi Kusama! 

(Tickets are still available for her Feb 5 lecture HERE!)

About our Guest:

Karen Daubmann, Former Vice President of Exhibitions and Audience Engagement, worked at The New York Botanical Garden for 14 years, bringing more than 70 exhibitions from concept to opening. With more than 20 years of experience in art and exhibitions, she has previously worked for Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, PA; Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, WI; and Walt Disney World. She earned a BLA (landscape architecture) and BS in Horticulture from the University of Rhode Island and an MS in Public Horticulture Administration with a Certificate in Museum Studies from the University of Delaware.

About the Author

Avant-garde Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama was an influential figure in the postwar New York art scene, staging provocative happenings and exhibiting works such as her “Infinity Nets”, hallucinatory paintings of loops and dots (and physical representations of the idea of infinity). Narcissus Garden, an installation of hundreds of mirrored balls, earned Kusama notoriety at the 1966 Venice Biennale, where she attempted to sell the individual spheres to passersby. Kusama counted Donald Judd and Eva Hesse among her close friends, and is often considered an influence on Andy Warhol and a precursor to Pop art. Since her return to Japan in the 1970s, Kusama’s work has continued to appeal to the imagination and the senses, including dizzying walk-in installations, public sculptures, and the “Dots Obsessions” paintings.

Top image: The enormous hot pink inflatables installation at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art exhibition of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama on October 31, 2021 (Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

This event is made possible by your support of the Annual Fund.