Since the 1960s Kusama has been making sculptures she calls "Accumulations." She affixes sewn-and-stuffed phallic protrusions to everyday objects—ladders, shoes, furniture—which she then arranges in installations, some room-sized. Violet Obsession is a monumental Accumulation: a rowboat with oars, electric purple and covered in irregular oblong forms. The effect is at once humorous and unsettling; Kusama offers a wry commentary on the phallus as a symbol of virility and power.
Gallery label from Mind and Matter: Alternative Abstractions, 1940s to Now, May 5–August 16, 2010.