Today, Yayoi Kusama is an art-world superstar, with museum-goers around the world lining up for hours for the chance to take photographs of—and with—her mirrored Infinity Rooms and polka-dotted pumpkins. And yet, the Japanese artist has lived in a mental hospital since the 1970s, suggesting an unseen dark side to her colorful universe. As a new documentary reveals, the road to success was a long and winding one that tested the artist’s drive, resiliency, and, ultimately, her sanity.
American interest in Asian art is at an all-time high after Yayoi Kusama’s hit ‘Infinity Mirrors’ exhibition. Guggenheim Museum Senior Curator Alexandra Munroe explores the diverse world of Asian Art in her video series ‘Eyes on Fire.’
Even if you’re not a major art buff, you’ve probably heard of Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist and social activist who will be speaking with Time magazine editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal Wednesday night at Aspen’s Isis Theatre, following a free 5:30 p.m. showing of his 2017 documentary film “Human Flow.” He’s one of the rare artists whose fame transcends his work, landing him squarely in the realm of global celebrity.
A vocal critic of the Chinese government, Ai has achieved international recognition as much for his political happenings – including a 2011 arrest in Beijing and 81-day jail stay for alleged economic crimes – as his major works, which include the famous “Bird’s Nest,” the Beijing National Stadium where the 2008 Olympics opening ceremonies were held.
Currently a resident of Berlin, Germany, and having lived in the U.S. from 1981-1993, Ai finds himself in an enviable position from which to juxtapose various belief systems, be they political, social or artistic. Informed by this viewpoint and spread across a wide variety of media, much of Ai’s work – giant stadiums aside – seeks to expose society’s ills, investigate wrongdoing and inspire positive steps.