Art Review: Yayoi Kusama’s “Dots Obsession — Alive, Seeking for Eternal Hope,” Philip Johnson Glass House, New Canaan, CT

I had the fortune of visiting the Philip Johnson Glass House in New Canaan, CT during the three-week installment of Yayoi Kusama’s Dots Obsession — Alive, Seeking for Eternal Hope. I can report that it was a joyful and resounding collision of seemingly unassociated iconic styles. Betwixt her own Narcissus Garden and Pumpkin, Kusama’s newest Infinity Room rounds out the three works celebrating the 10th anniversary of The Glass House since it opened to the public. It is also the first time an artist has interacted with the architecture itself as the canvas.

I wonder what the late Philip Johnson and his partner, David Whitney, would have thought about the addition of the red dots. As an idea, it’s almost absurd. But, in some certain sense, that’s exactly what makes it perfect. On any given day without the dots, the inescapable, overarching theme of The Glass House and its grounds is the tension between nature and the man-made. The repeating geometry of the organic, rounded edges of the leaves in the trees intervene with the sharp corners of the house but marry with the curve of the internal column of the building.


I had almost expected the dots to be more arresting. The absurdity of it in its abstraction, for me, was fueled by my fear that it would distract from not only the natural world but the physical structure. Looking out over the pastoral, sloped landscape I notice the interplay of stone fences with commercial concrete structures; I feel how carefully choreographed each view is, and I know that Johnson and Whitney would have embraced Kusama.

There is an incredible sense of art world sanctity at 877 Ponus Ridge Road. The stories–whether or not you choose to believe them–of Andy Warhol putting out his cigarette on a Barcelona Chair one night or of Frank Lloyd Wright repositioning Elie Nadelman’s papier-mâché maquette of Two Circus Women, fill the space with the sense that culture and taste as we know it today were conceived, drenched in martinis, right there.

Dots Obsession — Alive, Seeking For Eternal Hope is on view until September 26, though unfortunately tickets for the Infinity Room tour seem to be completely sold out.
Narcissus Garden and Pumpkin will remain on view through November 30.

Featured Image Credit: Matthew Palacek


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