3. Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama, another alum of the Art Students League, began exhibiting her work in New York way back in the 1950s. She debuted one of her most popular pieces, Infinity Mirror Room, in 1965. She would reiterate this installation in New York City multiple times with great success, most recently in 2013, 2017, and 2023. Renowned for her polka-dot-covered sculptures and paintings, Kusama’s first permanent underground work can be found at Grand Central Madison, on the Madison Concourse between 46th and 47th streets.
Titled, A Message of Love, Directly from My Heart unto the Universe, this frenetic mosaic stretches 120 feet wide and 7 feet tall. As you walk along the length of the installation, you’ll notice abstract and figurative images that look like faces, the sun, or even microscopic cells. They are meant to evoke themes of Love, universe, and peace. In a poem that accompanies the mural, Kusama writes, “May you all experience the true beauty of loving humanity./Human life is beautiful./My wish is to deliver this vision, with all that is in my life, to the people of New York.”