AGO is crowdfunding to buy one of Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Rooms

If you neglected to snap a glittery selfie at Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors exhibit this spring, make room on your memory card.

On November 1st, the Art Gallery of Ontario will launch a month-long crowdfunding campaign to acquire the country’s first Infinity Mirror Room for its permanent collection.

The gallery has secured half the cost of buying one of the Japanese pop artist’s philanthropic installations, but doesn’t say which one. The space, which has never been on display in Canada, will gradually be revealed over the course of the 30-day campaign. Once the #InfinityAGO campaign hits its $ 1.3 million target, the Mirror Room will be brought to Toronto “as soon as possible,” according to a press release.

Donors starting at $ 25 will have the option to view the room in Spring 2019 before it opens to the public. Those who donate within the first five days of the campaign (November 1st to 5th at noon) take part in a competition to win an overnight stay at the AGO with five friends, which includes exclusive access to the room. Buttons, umbrellas, and other rewards are offered for higher contributions, and all donations over $ 100 will receive a tax certificate. The campaign website is infinityago.ca.

Long fired and copied, 89-year-old Kusama is now widely recognized as the most popular artist in the world. Her exhibition “Infinity Mirrors” became a worldwide sensation in the last two years after the gallery owners’ selfies spread in the rooms on social media.

In addition to paintings, sculptures, installations and films, the exhibition comprised six rooms. The run at the AGO from March to May was the show’s most popular tour stop with 165,000 visitors. The gallery has also extended its opening hours in the past few days to meet demand.

The AGO Foundation is donating $ 1 million to purchase the artwork, so the crowdfund will be used for the remaining $ 1 million plus $ 300,000 for shipping, advertising, and staffing.

How Do You Buy an Infinity Mirror Room?

“You are offered a room and you say yes,” says Stephan Jost, CEO of AGO, and adds that the artist usually produces the rooms in three editions. “Kusama doesn’t just sell to anyone. We have a good relationship with her gallery owner and her studio. We are well known. “

While the rooms exhibited by Infinity Mirrors during the AGO run could accommodate one or two people at a time, according to Jost, the new room, which is under construction, will have room for five people. Although selfies were forbidden in the particularly fragile room “All the eternal love I have for the pumpkins”, they will be allowed when the AGO takes over.

“One of the great things about a collection is that it reflects the values ​​of the time in which we purchase it,” says Jost, noting that Kusama’s work is at the forefront of three great art movements of the 60 years. “One of them is Pop Art, the interface between consumer culture and art. Another is minimalist, which is reductive and elegant, and the third is the performance art. There is only one artist who makes all three successful. “

AGO is the first Canadian art museum to launch a crowdfunding campaign of this magnitude to acquire contemporary art.

In 1959, however, the institution went public to help purchase the 16th-century large-format oil painting Christ Washing The Disciples’ Feet by Italian master Jacopo Tintoretto. In essence, people could sponsor one by one inch “squares”. According to Jost, the people who helped pay for the painting are still bringing it up. Part of the Kusama strategy is to maintain long-term connections and fundraising.

“We actually need the money. We have made funds available, but many are restricted so you can only use that money to buy 19th century Canadian or old masters, ”he says. “This is also about strengthening the connection between the visitor and a particular work of art.”

Large art institutions regularly turn to donors and supporters to pay for expensive acquisitions, but online crowdfunding has become increasingly common in recent years.

In 2014, the Louvre launched an annual campaign requesting EUR 12.5 million (CAD 18.6 million) to purchase the Teschen table, a jeweled piece of furniture from the 18th century. And last year, the Paris-based house of the Mona Lisa launched a € 10 million (CAD 14.9 million) push to purchase the Book of Hours, a 16th-century prayer book encrusted with jewels and gold that belonged to King François of France belonged to ME.

The Royal Academy of Art in London, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Smithsonian in Washington, DC have also used crowdfunding for contemporary art and purchase historical artifacts.

In total, Kusama has created more than 20 different mirror rooms since the 1960s. There are 18 permanent Infinity Mirrored Room installations in museums around the world in cities like Rotterdam, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Tokyo and outside of Copenhagen.

art@nowtoronto.com | @ KevinRitchie

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