Yayoi Kusama's Flower-Filled Installation Has Art Lovers Seeing Red

National Gallery of Victoria
National Gallery of Victoria

"Subtle" would probably be the last word one would use to describe the work of 89-year-old artist Yayoi Kusama. Her larger-than-life installations tend to feature loud colors, funhouse-esque mirrors, and frenzied patterns—and her latest work is no exception.

Her installation, Flower Obsession, was specially commissioned for the Melbourne-based National Gallery of Victoria's Triennial, an art event supported by the government of Victoria, Australia that ran from December through April. Gallery organizers said they counted 1.2 million visitors at the Triennial, making it the most visited exhibition in the gallery's 157-year history.

Many people came just to get a glimpse of Kusama's color-crazed world. As My Modern Met reports, gallery-goers were invited to stick faux daisies onto the walls and surfaces of an otherwise drab space made to look like the inside of an apartment. Eventually, a sea of 550,000 red flowers engulfed everything in sight, from light fixtures to chairs to a toilet. Up until April 15, 2018, only those in attendance got an up-close look at this evolving installation. But new images, released by the National Gallery of Victoria, are giving art lovers around the world the chance to see this amazing piece for themselves.

A portrait of Yayoi Kusama wearing a red wig
Artist Yayoi Kusama
National Gallery of Victoria

A doorway covered in flowers
National Gallery of Victoria

A kitchen covered in flowers
National Gallery of Victoria

A living room covered in flowers
National Gallery of Victoria

A flower-covered toilet
National Gallery of Victoria

Kusama explained her inspiration prior to the show's opening:

"One day, after gazing at a pattern of red flowers on the tablecloth, I looked up to see that the ceiling, the windows, and the columns seemed to be plastered with the same red floral pattern," she said in a statement. "I saw the entire room, my entire body, and the entire universe covered with red flowers, and in that instant, my soul was obliterated."

In the past, Kusama has spoken out about her experience with mental illness and the hallucinations she's had since childhood, many of which have inspired her work. "My nets grew beyond myself and beyond the canvases I was covering with them," she once said. "They began to cover the walls, the ceiling, and finally the whole universe." Kusama has voluntarily lived in a psychiatric facility in Tokyo since 1977.

Flower Obsession isn't the first time Kusama has introduced the concept of "obliterating" a space. For a previous installation, visitors were encouraged to place colorful polka dots on the white walls of a room. To see this installation and others by Kusama, check out the photos below.

A room covered in polka dot stickers
The Obliteration Room (2017)
Alex Wong, Getty Images


Longing for Eternity (2017)
Timothy A. Clary, AFP/Getty Images

An installation using pumpkin shapes and mirrors
Infinity Mirrored Room (2017)
Alex Wong, Getty Images


Infinity Mirrored Room—Filled with the Brilliance of Life (2014)
Karim Sahib, AFP/Getty Images

[h/t My Modern Met]

Art Historian Says 10 Works in the Louvre’s Collection Were Looted by Nazis

Freezingtime/iStock via Getty Images
Freezingtime/iStock via Getty Images

By the end of the 1940s, about 60,000 of the 100,000 French artworks looted by Nazis during World War II had been returned to France, but not all of them made it back to their owners—some were auctioned off, while others were labeled as “National Museum Recovery” (MNR) and stored at various museums around the country, including the Louvre.

Earlier this month, the Louvre hired art historian Emmanuelle Polack to help identify the origins of those works, and she’s already traced 10 of them back to a Jewish lawyer from Paris named Armand Dorville, whose 450-piece collection was looted by the Nazis in the early 1940s.

Smithsonian reports that Dorville escaped to his southern chateau when the Nazis invaded Paris in 1940, leaving his collection behind. He died of natural causes a year later, and the Nazis sold his entire collection—containing works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Édouard Manet, and more—at a 1942 auction in Nice, where Louvre curator René Huyghe bought 12 items.

Ten of those items are still housed in the museum today, including four works by Henri Monnier, five by Constantin Guys, and one by Camille Roqueplan. The Musée d’Orsay owns the eleventh—a Jean-Louis Forain painting—and the twelfth is a lost bronze by Pierre-Jules Mène.

Polack knew the whereabouts of some of Dorville’s former possessions as early as last year, when the Louvre loaned two of them to her for an exhibition on MNR works that she was curating for the Shoah Memorial; the Musée d’Orsay’s painting was also part of that show.

Right now, Dorville’s great-niece, Francine X., has made a restitution claim for the artworks, which is still under investigation. And, considering that the Louvre holds almost 1800 MNR works in its collection, there could be more restitution claims to come.

[h/t Smithsonian]

Paris Musées Digitized More than 100,000 Major Artworks and Made Them Downloadable

“Setting Sun on the Seine at Lavacourt” by Claude Monet
“Setting Sun on the Seine at Lavacourt” by Claude Monet
Paris Musées, CC0

The museums of Paris are home to some of the most influential artworks on Earth, and if you live outside France, you no longer need a passport to see them. As Smithsonian reports, Paris Musées—the organization behind 14 of the city's iconic museums—has digitized more than 100,000 paintings and other pieces of art and made them freely available to the public.

The institutions under Paris Musées's umbrella include the Petit Palais, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, and Maison de Balzac. It started sharing the work in its inventory online in 2016, and has since uploaded more than 320,000 pictures.

Roughly a third of the images in that digital collection were published in January 2020. This recent update was part of Paris Musées's initiative toward embracing open-access art. Every one of the 100,000-plus images uploaded in this month fall under the Creative Commons Zero license, which means they are fully in the public domain. Works like "Young Ladies on the Banks of the Seine" by Gustave Courbet, “Setting Sun on the Seine at Lavacourt” by Claude Monet, and "Portrait of Ambroise Vollard” by Paul Cézanne, are now not only free to view, but free to download as well.

"Portrait of Ambroise Vollard” by Paul Cézanne
"Portrait of Ambroise Vollard” by Paul Cézanne
Paris Musées, CC0

Paris Musées eventually hopes to transition all the out-of-copyright items in its collection—which comprises roughly 1 million works—to a Creative Commons Zero license. The most recent image dump is just the first round, and other art will become available gradually as the institution carefully evaluates the copyright status of each piece. It plans to someday expand its public domain artworks to external platforms like Wikimedia Commons, but for now, you can find them on Paris Musées's website.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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