One of America’s most iconic architectural landmarks has been overrun by bright red polka dots. This whimsical and eye-catching takeover of Philip Johnson’s Glass House is the work of none other than Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. The 87-year-old artist worked her magic on the four facades of the famous house as part of a month-long “Dots Obsession — Alive, Seeking for Eternal Hope” installation commemorating what would have been Johnson’s 110th birthday and the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Glass House to the public.
Built in 1949, the Glass House is a modern and minimalist masterpiece designed by Philip Johnson as his own residence on a 49-acre estate in New Canaan, Connecticut. The Glass House opened to the public in 1996 and has hosted tours, art installations, and even music performances. Ms. Kusama, a contemporary of Johnson, was invited by curator Irene Shum to install the “Narcissus Garden”—a work first created in 1966 for the 33rd Venice Biennale—as part of a celebratory event.
“Narcissus Garden” comprises 1,300 floating steel spheres installed in the newly restored pond. The shimmering spheres, each around 12 inches in diameter, move with the wind currents to create a kinetic sculpture that mirrors its environment. Ms. Kusama also added her signature polka-dotted “Pumpkin,” a six-foot-tall shiny gourd located on the opposite side of the home in the hillside meadow.
The most notable work of the three site-specific installations is “Dots Obsession — Alive, Seeking for Eternal Hope,” in which Ms. Kusama covered the Glass House with polka dots and added an “infinity room” experience. On display from September 1 through 26, the exhibition breathes new life into the glass-and-steel structure. Over 1,200 low tack adhesive vinyl circles of three varying sizes—12 centimeters, 18 centimeters, and 25 centimeters—were applied to the walls and doors on all four sides of the home. The vibrant “Pepsi Red” of the polka dots creates a sharp contrast against the green landscape.
“My desire is to measure and to make order of the infinite, unbounded universe from my own position within it, with polka dots,” said Ms. Kusama. “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.”
Images via The Glass House, © Matthew Placek