Evolution of a Pop Up
Breaking barriers between art and life.
If you think the ubiquitous “Museum of____” came out of nowhere, think again. We decided to look at pivotal moments in cultural happenings and experiences to see where it all began. Guess what we found? Things started with uber-visionary Yayoi Kusama, and seem to be ending with her. Our hope is that the next phase in this phenom is a bit heavier on the culture and lighter on the pop, and the up can stay.
Illustrations by Pia, 20, New York City
KUSAMA + FLUXUS (’60S):
Fluxus was an international collection of interdisciplinary artists that emerged in the early 1960s as a reaction against art world elitism. Members (including Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, and Yayoi Kusuma) strove to break down the barriers between art and life with a series of performance art pieces they called “events.”
Area was a themed nightclub that ran from 1983–1987 in New York City. With its ever- changing installations, mix of underground and world- renowned superstars, and a secret signal for admittance, Area set a new standard for turning partying into its own art form.
BARNEYS’ X-MAS WINDOWS (EARLY ‘90S):
Christmas windows are nothing new, but at its height in the late ’80s/early ’90s, Simon Doonan’s windows at Barneys had people lining up. Warhol crossed with Disney, his fantastical dioramas staged everybody from dominatrix Margaret Thatcher to Mr. Potato Head, serving as both window and mirror to American culture writ large.
LIQUID SKY & CLUB KIDS (EARLY ’90S)
While ’80s excess gave way to ’90s grunge, club kids kept the fantasy alive with elaborate costumes and all night raves. But by day, everyone stopped by the store-cum-social-club, Liquid Sky, where it-girl Chloë Sevigny worked the counter and there was always somebody to see and to be seen by.
COLETTE & COMME DES GARÇONS(LATE ‘90S)
Enter the Paris-based Colette, which opened its doors in 1997 and immediately became the place to be. With artist curated windows and a revolving series of in-house pop-ups, the store was hallowed ground for fashion’s glitterati. COMME des GARÇONS has a long history of first-of-its-kind everything, from design to artist collaborations, but the brand’s approach to store and experience proved once and for all that it was way ahead of its time. IU launched their “Guerilla” stores, which popped up in cities around the globe and then closed up shop after exactly one year.
OLAFUR ELIASSON’S THE WEATHER PROJECT @ TATE MODERN (‘03):
If only Instagram had been around in 2003, Olafur Eliasson’s installation of a sun inside the Tate Modern would have been a must for anyone seeking some social clout.
CHANEL’S ART POD (‘09):
The Zaha Hadid mobile structure landed in New York City’s Central Park in 2009 just as the economy was about to crash. Karl Lagerfeld’s monument to excess with 20 original works by leading contemporary artists inspired by Chanel bags was part floating art gallery, part publicity stunt.
KUSAMA & LOUIS VUITTON (‘12):
Louis Vuitton teamed up with artist Yayoi Kusuma to emblazon her signature polka dots on a line of clothing and accessories. It was these very same polka dots, painted on naked volunteers for a series of happenings, that began her meteoric rise five decades earlier. Fluxus to fashion, dust to dust.
THE RAIN ROOM @MOMA (‘13):
This installation used 2,500 liters of water to provide visitors the sensation of walking through an indoor downpour without getting wet. The frenzy to snap an Instagram pic from inside caused lines to stretch around the block for months. On average, 1,000 people per day waited hours to enter the 100 square meter room.
THE UBIQUITOUS POP UP (NOW):
The rise of the pop up museum began with the birth of 29Rooms and eventually spawned the Color Factory, Happy Place, and the Museums of Pizza, Ice Cream, and Rosé, respectively. The widespread presence of these places signals the beginning of the end, just as surely as the serpent eats its own tail.
POSTSCRIPT: KUSAMA’S INFINITY ROOM @ BELLAGIO HOTEL, LAS VEGAS (TOO SOON):
We rest our case.