Thursday, November 28, 2013

I Who Have Arrived in Heaven

A Visit to the New Yayoi Kusama Exhibition

While the rest of Gotham was in full-blown exodus mode for the Thanksgiving holiday, we decided to treat ourselves to a really magical exhibition by the queen of polka dots herself, Japanese octagenarian artist Yayoi Kusama. Here we are waiting our turn to get in. You can see we dressed for the occasion. And like surgeons entering an operating room, we and fellow visitors had to don surgical booties to enter the installation in order to maintain the highly polished floor's mirror-like finish. They don't really go with our look, but it's the holiday season, and we're of good cheer.

Below, that's us with our doppelgangers in the installation of dotted, colorful stalagmites and stalactites. (Kusama herself has referred to them as phalluses.)

The exhibition has two so-called Infinity Rooms, which use that wonderful mirror trick that makes your view seem endlessly repeated. We heard that the line for the other Infinity Room, which looks like a star-filled sky on a cloudless night, was an astonishing three hours long. Happily, if incomprehensibly, the line for the room of polka-dotted phallic symbols was infinitely shorter. Small groups were ushered in for a strictly kept one minute limit, but what a minute! You can see from the two photos that colors changed constantly. We wound up standing on line three times to try to figure out optimal photo locations. Doing all that in sixty seconds takes drill team precision.

Kusama's latest show, "I Who Have Arrived In Heaven", is featured in not one but three David Zwirner galleries, with three contiguous addresses, in the shadow of the High Line. With high ceilings and oooooooodles of space, they are the perfect location for her work.

Avid readers might remember we covered the opening of her show last year at the Whitney Museum. Designer Marc Jacobs collaborated with Kusama on a divine collection of dotted shoes, handbags and clothing for Louis Vuitton and even wrapped the entire 5th Avenue flagship store in large polka dots.  (We are still crestfallen that we could not each take home one of the many wonderful Yayoi dolls from the stupendous window display.)

Here is Valerie shaking her bootie! And of course, we incorporated lots of polka dots into our wardrobe selections in anticipation of the event, and in honor of the maestra. Spies diligently synchronize their watches and check their coordinates; we check our wardrobes. Valerie characterized her look to Jean quite simply as "I look like I've got measles." You get the picture. Speaking of measles, the cover of Rizzoli's book Kusama features her self-portrait study in dots.

In the next room, Kusama appears to be preaching an apocalyptic message, but she actually singing a lullaby-like song, with the translation in subtitles.

That's Jean in the center. We were allowed to photograph, but not to use flash, which made for very interesting results.

We strolled through the two other galleries to view a series of square-shaped paintings in Yayoi's instantly recognizable colorful style.

Valerie getting up close and personal with one of the paintings.

Jean working her monastic look.

Valerie's outfit was strangely color coordinated with EVERY Yayoi painting.

Jean thought the pattern in this painting looked like the pathways in an ant farm.

We walked over to Chelsea Market and stopped into The Tippler for a Thanksgiving-eve cocktail.  Valerie selected the 'Killah Beez Kneez", but asked the waitress to take out the vodka and substitute prosecco.

Jean opted for a lovely cocktail called "Pina Envy" with tequila and pinapple, asking the waitress to take out the bitters. (And of course NO ice!) Perfect way to head into Thanksgiving.

What We're Wearing:

Valerie is wearing an unlabeled vintage black felt hat with dots added for the occasion, black and white polka dot earrings inherited from Jean's mom, velveteen polka dot coat by Cattiva, purchased from Sunset Boulevard, rayon polka dot scarf, black and white polka dot gloves, polka dot wrist bag by Baggalini (discovered by Jean on her travels), Betsey Johnson pants, polka dot umbrella (and boots?) by Shed Rain.

Jean is wearing an Amy Downs hat; Comfy USA dotted skirt; Uniqlo dotted leggings and t-neck; Kyodan jacket; charm necklace; vintage bakelite rings; vintage eyeglasses; mid-century aluminum wire earrings; black leather cross-body bag from street vendor; polka dot iPhone case from street vendor; Calvin Klein reversible shawl collared monk coat; and customized platform Dankso clogs.


  1. I love Yayoi's use of eye-popping colours - her paintings are universes of candy-coloured happiness. Of course both of you went completely dotty over the exhibit.

    Happy Thanksgiving to both of you - this was way better than turkey.

  2. How do you get customized Dansko platform clogs?

    1. Simple! YOU buy the clogs you like in your size and then YOU customize them yourself. For the full story on Jean's latest custom job, check out our April 2013 blog posting @