Yayoi Kusama turned 16 just a few months before two atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, obliterating first Hiroshima and then Nagasaki. Those horrific events in August 1945 were — and remain — the world’s only episode of nuclear warfare.
Kusama lived with her family in Matsumoto, a little over 400 miles to the east, which might be like living in Los Angeles if San Francisco were to get atomized. The impact, psychological and emotional, would be profound.
Obliteration has been a theme in Kusama’s art since her marvelous abstract “net” paintings, begun in the late 1950s. It also drives the popular mirrored rooms that are among her least significant works. What works for the paintings doesn’t for the sculptures. Six of the 20 rooms she has made since 1965 anchor “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors,” a new exhibition at the Broad museum.
The first room is “Phalli’s Field,” a work no longer extant