Among the most peculiar pieces of avant garde sculpting ever created is Yayoi Kusama’s Accumulation No 1.
Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama created Accumulation No 1 in 1962, but it was not shown to the public until its inclusion in the “Love Forever: Yayoi Kusama, 1958-1968” collection in 1988.
To provide a singular description of what Accumulation No 1 looks like would be a disservice to the sculpture. Meant to be displayed in the center of the room, this artwork appears different from every angle.
The general aesthetic however, is one of shocking oddities. Not only does the armchair base look blob-like and misshapen, as though it had been dripped on by sediment-laden water for centuries, the fabric and enamel protrusions quite vividly remember male genitalia.
This perception is further supported by a quote from Kusama herself, saying that many of her artworks “bristle with phalluses.” This effect is compounded when one understands that she used the exact same materials as the preeminent male avant garde artists Jackson Pollock and William de Kooning.
The Healing Process
As with all of Yayoi Kusama’s artworks, Accumulation No 1 began from a place of love and a desire for acceptance, although not of herself.
Kusama believed that by crafting various forms and shapes of the male genitalia, she could heal these negative emotions within herself and grow to become a more loving and understanding person.
Through a process of hand-stitching and hand-crafting hundreds of phalluses, Kusama was able to heal her emotions and render a vivid portrayal of what she had been feeling in the form of a simple armchair completely devoured and consumed by genitalia.
Kusama had several of her more influential pieces displayed in the exhibition entitled “Love Forever: Yayoi Kusama, 1958-1968.” Each of these pieces was indicative of Kusama’s minimalist stylings and pop influences in a predominantly avant garde manner.
Among the other works displayed in this exhibit was the Infinity Room–Phalli’s Field piece. A pioneer of its time, this piece was the embodiment of all the repetitive, shock-inducing emotions that Kusama had been producing in that time.
What sets this piece apart, however, was the fact that these aspects were all captured in a physical medium that enable the viewers to undergo a perceptual experience of the art rather than simply perceiving it.
Over the past several decades, Kusama has produced countless works of art, though not all of them have gone on to receive the levels of critical acclaim enjoyed by works such as Infinity Room or Accumulation No 1.
Many of these works are featured in the biographical film, Kusama Infinity, produced by Magnolia Pictures for publication in 2018.
The shocking and phallic nature of avant garde art can be said to belong first to Kusama. More than just genitalia on couches, the emotions of conflicting hate and love shine equally bright in Yayoi Kusama’s Accumulation No 1.