The Art Gallery of Ontario has launched a crowdfunding campaign to bring one of Yayoi Kusama’s signature Infinity Mirror rooms to its permanent collection.
A temporary exhibit by the Japanese artist was a smash hit this past spring, and it seems the AGO is now hoping to mirror the success of the show — for infinity, or at least as long as the gallery exists.
“Yayoi Kusama is one of the most important artists alive today. The opportunity to have an Infinity Mirror Room as part of the AGO’s collection is deeply exciting,” said Stephan Jost, CEO of the art gallery.
More than 165,000 people visited Kusama’s renowned chambers of illusion during the show’s limited run at the AGO this year. Nearly as many seemed to share selfies from inside the rooms on social media.
A permanent installation would become Kusama’s only Infinity Mirror Room at a Canadian public art museum.
To pay for the work, the AGO is making a rare public appeal for help to raise $1.3 million for the display. The gallery has already secured another $1 million through its AGO Foundation.
“We want to buy an Infinity room by Kusama for our collection so people can see it,” Jost explained in an interview with Metro Morning.
“The problem is, it’s really expensive.”
The AGO says the campaign is the largest crowdfunding effort ever undertaken by a Canadian art museum in an effort to acquire a contemporary artwork.
What will it look like?
Jost said negotiations with Kusama and her studio have gone well since the spring exhibit, and that the group quickly agreed to sell a permanent work to the AGO.
“It’s her call when she gets to sell infinity rooms,” Jost said. To date, 17 museums around the world are home to one of the pieces.
While Jost said the AGO knows which specific work will be brought to Toronto, he refused to share those details.
“It’s big, I can tell you that,” he demurred, before adding that it will be able to fit five people at a time.
Construction of the room is already underway in Japan, Jost said. It would be finished in New York before being brought to Toronto next spring.
The biggest, but not the first
While the AGO acknowledges that crowdfunding is an uncommon practice in the art world, the current campaign isn’t the first time Toronto’s premier art gallery has asked the public for help in acquiring a new piece.
In 1958, the museum purchased a painting by the Italian Renaissance master Tintoretto through a proto-crowdfunding campaign, in which the gallery offered buyers ownership of one square inch of the painting for $10.
The painting is in the AGO’s collection to this day.
“I’ve always found, when we bet on our public, the public responds,” Jost said.