How did this story of collaboration on windows with Yayoi Kusama begin?
At Louis Vuitton, we have no “recipes” when collaborating with artists. For this case, there were several originating factors: first of all, Marc Jacobs went to visit Yayoi Kusama in her studio in Tokyo in 2006. Kusama is one of Marc’s favourite artists, and Yayoi Kusama is a big fan of Marc. More recently, we had the idea of working with Yayoi Kusama on our global windows, and then, we learned that a major retrospective on Kusama was travelling worldwide from Spain, Paris, London to New York. Louis Vuitton is a major supporter of this travelling exhibition and decided to launch a major collaboration project with Kusama when the exhibition arrives at the Whitney Museum in NYC in July. We believe it is very important to have a cultural dimension when collaborating with artists. We would like to support the artist by giving more visibility to her artworks.
Louis Vuitton has 461 stores worldwide and many windows for each store. These windows give hugh visibility to its contents, and in the past, we have collaborated with artists such as Robert Wilson, Ugo Rondinone or Olafur Eliasson. The Kusama windows will showcase new creations inspired by her most iconic artworks, and there will be no products inside these windows for the first period of two months. Having artworks thus presented in our windows gives more meaning to our collaboration.
Yayoi Kusama window display at Louis Vuitton 5th Avenue Maison
What are the inspirations of these windows?
These windows installations have been produced by Louis Vuitton in collaboration with Yayoi Kusama.
There are two artworks for the worldwide network of Louis Vuitton stores:
The “Eternal Blooming Flowers in Mind”, featuring iconic flower sculptures of Kusama, and the “Beginning of the Universe”, featuring her nonetheless iconic “nerve” sculptures.
Both are Yayoi Kusama’s major artworks in iconic colours (red and white). Initially, Yayoi Kusama made us a proposal of nine ideas, and then, we spent time together discussing which ones would best interact with our architecture and window spaces, as well as how our audience may engage with them.
There will be another special scheme of windows for a selected network of Louis Vuitton Maison’s worldwide. Entitled “Self-Obliteration”, these windows feature miniature dolls of Kusama which have been made identical to herself, by moulding her face and hands with clay.
These “Kusama dolls”, representing Kusama in her famous red wig and dressed in red and white polka dots, will be immersed inside a window also created with red and white polka dots. Passers-by will have to “spot” the Kusama doll hidden among the many dots.
This idea to “spot Kusama” came up during a creative meeting in Tokyo at the Kusama studio. Yayoi Kusama proposed the idea of creating an army of mini Yayoi Kusamas, which we found was an amazingly exciting idea.
Yayoi Kusama “Nerves” window display at Louis Vuitton 5th Avenue Maison
Can we consider these windows as artworks?
Yes, Yayoi Kusama herself considers these pieces as artworks. Theses installations are not exact replicas of anything Kusama has made before: the artist wanted this installation for Louis Vuitton windows to be a new fusion, not more of the same.
These windows will surprise passers-by on the streets, and we are sure that they will allow a lot of people to discover or to re-discover the artwork and philosophy of this major artist.
How far was Yayoi Kusama implicated in the creative process?
Our creative team flew to Tokyo many times and spent a lot of time in Tokyo with Yayoi Kusama and her team, sitting around a table sketching and sharing ideas. For the artist, who sees her life as “a dot lost among millions of other dots”, this collaboration will allow her to spread her polka dots infinitely across the world and convey her message: “Love Forever”. It is a way for her to increase her audience and she has been strongly implicated in the whole creative process.
Yayoi Kusama “Nerves” window display with Yayoi Kusama wax figure at Louis Vuitton 5th Avenue Maison
Was Marc Jacobs implicated in the creation of these windows?
Marc Jacobs is the Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton and is this sense, he oversees everything from products, fashion shows to advertising campaigns. His creativity and visions guide and lead us. Marc has been very enthusiastic in every stage of collaboration with Yayoi Kusama, one of his favourite artists.
Tell us about the special windows for Selfridges/London
For Selfridges, the idea was to create something different that takes the viewer on a journey along the twenty windows. Yayoi Kusama is a major artist but in the past she has also written a lot of novels and poems. Her poetry is very inspiring and engaging, and less known to the public. The Selfridges windows seemed like the right space to showcase this in the most inspirational way.
(Below is the poem selected with Kusama for the Selfridges windows)
STARS, THE EARTH, I AND YOU
WE ARE BUT ONE POLKA DOT
TO A SHINING FUTURE
ALL ABOUT MY GREAT HAPPINESS
FASHIONABLY DRESSED UP
LET’S GO AND SEE OUR BOYFRIENDS IN HIGH HEELS
I, IN HIGH HEELS
Yayoi Kusama “Self Obliteration” window display at Louis Vuitton 5th Avenue Maison
Tell us about the special windows for Le Printemps/Paris
The idea came from the artwork “Narcissus Garden” with stainless steel balls, which was recently showcased the Victoria Miro Gallery in London in 2012. This installation was first showcased by Kusama in 1966 at the Venice Biennale, where she installed 1500 mirrored spheres outside the Italian Pavilion and started selling them for 1,200 lira a piece until the police came to stop her. It was a brilliant stroke of guerrilla art at that time.
These mirrored spheres will give a delightful and contemporary twist to the mannequins and Kusama dolls inside the windows covered with red and white polka dots.
Images via Louis Vuitton