The Glass House is polka-dotted no more, as Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s month-long installation, Dots Obsession – Alive, Seeking for Eternal Hope, at the New Canaan landmark has drawn to a close.
From the beginning of the month through September 26, more than 1,200 red vinyl circles adorned exterior walls of the late architect Philip Johnson’s fully-glazed house—which, together with the other structures and buildings on the property, forms a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Dots Obsession coincided with the 10th season of tours at the Glass House and the 110th anniversary of Johnson’s birth—a fact that, according to staff, spurred some observers of the lighthearted work to comment that “the Glass House has its party hat on.”
The 87-year-old artist’s connection to Philip Johnson dates back to the 1960s, when the he acquired her piece, Accumulation of Stamps, 63. (The architect donated the piece to the Museum of Modern Art in 1970.) More than 50 years later, curator and collections manager Irene Shum once again turned to Kusama, proposing to exhibit Narcissus Garden in the 3-acre pond near Johnson’s roughly two-thirds scale pavilion. The 1,300 free-floating steel spheres, originally designed for the 1966 Venice Biennale, were installed in May, and one thing led to the next. “She asked if we would be interested in more recent work,” says Shum. “PUMPKIN was an easy yes.” Situated between the Glass House and the Brick House, the squat, stainless-steel sculpture sits on an existing pedestal—one that Johnson originally designed in the 1970s to hold Curve II by Ellsworth Kelly, but which had gone unused since 1984 when the architect donated Kelly’s sculpture to MoMA.
The color palette and shapes in Dots Obsession take cues from Kusama’s other two installations on the property: the dots’ bright red hue matches the interior of PUMPKIN, while their placement on the reflective exterior of the Glass House recalls the mirror-finish spheres of the Narcissus Garden punctuating the surface of the pond. “I’d like to take more credit as the curator, but it just all fell together in a really beautiful way,” says Shum. “We couldn’t have planned it better ourselves.”
Though the dots are gone, PUMPKIN and Narcissus Garden will be on display at the Glass House through November 30.