Living

If you missed Kusama’s ‘Light of Life’ at the NC Art Museum, it will soon have a new home

Yayoi Kusama’s “Light of Life” is part of the NC Museum of Art’s permanent collection. After debuting as part of the “You Are Here” exhibit, it will be on permanent display in the museum’s contemporary gallery starting this fall.
Yayoi Kusama’s “Light of Life” is part of the NC Museum of Art’s permanent collection. After debuting as part of the “You Are Here” exhibit, it will be on permanent display in the museum’s contemporary gallery starting this fall. jleonard@newsobserver.com

Since April, one of the most popular pieces of art at the NC Museum of Art has been “Light of Life,” by Japanese conceptual artist Yayoi Kusama.

During the 15-week run of “You Are Here: Light, Color, and Sound Experiences,” the blockbuster multimedia exhibit that closed last weekend, experiencing Kusama’s work involved standing in line for up to an hour.

But starting Sept. 7, “Light of Life” will have a new, permanent home — and maybe shorter lines.

Re-installing the Kusama piece coincides with breaking down and moving out the other 13 pieces from “You Are Here,” which was one of the best-attended exhibits the museum has ever had.

The museum reports it ranks fourth all-time in exhibition attendance. It is also the most-attended contemporary art exhibit the museum has ever presented.

RAL_ KUSAMA4-FE-032618-JEL
North Carolina Museum of Art's newest acquisition, Yayoi Kusama's "Light of Life," on Monday, March 26, 2018. From the outside, the piece looks like a mirrored hexagonal box but stick your head inside one of its three portholes, and you'll see yourself transported into an enclosed "infinity room" of changing colors and patterns. Juli Leonard jleonard@newsobserver.com

The museum acquired the Kusama piece for its permanent collection, unveiling it this spring for “You Are Here.”

For the next six weeks, the piece will be in a hibernation of sorts as it migrates from the museum’s East to West Building. “Light of Life” will be on permanent display in the modern and contemporary galleries.

First, however, it has to be dissembled, cleaned, moved and reassembled with appropriate lighting and signage. The process will also involve rearranging other pieces in the contemporary gallery to make room for the new arrival.

“It’s a production,” said Karlie Marlowe, the museum’s director of marketing and visitor services, in an email. “Our art handlers are almost balletic in their choreography of everything.”

From outside, “Light of Life” appears to be just a just a mirrored hexagonal box, about 7 feet tall. But you experience it by looking inside one of its three portholes, where you see yourself in an enclosed “infinity room” landscape of changing patterns and colors.

Works like this are why the reclusive 89-year-old Kusama has been dubbed the “most Instagrammed artist in the world.”

Experience in 360-degree video the North Carolina Museum of Art's new immersive and interactive installations by 14 contemporary artists, 'You Are Here: Light, Color and Sound Experiences.' Chief curator Linda Dougherty explains the exhibit.

“You Are Here” drew 102,544 visitors from all 100 North Carolina counties, all 50 U.S. states (plus Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., and U.S. Virgin Islands) and various European countries, the museum said in a news release.

It ranks behind 2006’s “Monet in Normandy,” 2011’s “Rembrandt in America” and 2015’s “M.C. Escher: Nature, Science, and Imagination,” the museum said.

Related stories from Durham Herald Sun

  Comments