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Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama
Born Yayoi Kusama
(1929-03-22) 22 March 1929
Matsumoto, Nagano, Japan
Nationality Japanese
Known for Painting, drawing, sculpture, installation art, performance art, film, fiction, fashion, writer
Movement Pop art, minimalism, feminist art, environmental art
Awards Praemium Imperiale
"I pray with all of my love for tulips" installation by Yayoi Kusama at the National Museum of Art, Osaka, 2012

Yayoi Kusama (草間 彌生 or 弥生 Kusama Yayoi, born March 22, 1929) is a Japan, and an important voice of the avant-garde.

Born in happenings in which naked participants were painted with brightly colored polka dots.

In 1973, Kusama moved back to her native Japan, where she found the art scene far more conservative than that in New York. Becoming an art dealer, her business folded after several years, and after experiencing psychiatric problems, in 1977 she voluntarily admitted herself to a hospital, where she has spent the rest of her life.[3] From here, she has continued to produce artworks in a variety of mediums, as well as launching a literary career by publishing several novels, a poetry collection and an autobiography.

Kusama's work is based in conceptual art and shows some attributes of feminism, minimalism, surrealism, Art Brut, pop art, and abstract expressionism, and is infused with autobiographical, psychological, and sexual content. Kusama is also a published novelist and poet, and has created notable work in film and fashion design. Major retrospectives of her work have been held at the Museum of Modern Art in 1998, the Whitney Museum in 2012, and Tate Modern in 2012.[4][5][6] In 2008, Christies New York sold a work by her for $5.1 million, then a record for a living female artist.[7]


  • Early life: 1929–1949 1
  • Career 2
    • Early success in Japan: 1950–1956 2.1
    • New York City: 1957–1972 2.2
    • Return to Japan: 1973–present 2.3
  • Works 3
    • Writing 3.1
    • Film 3.2
    • Fashion 3.3
    • Performance 3.4
    • Commissions 3.5
  • Exhibitions 4
    • Exhibition list 4.1
  • Collections 5
  • Recognition 6
  • Art market 7
  • In popular culture 8
  • Works and publications 9
    • Exhibition catalogs 9.1
    • Illustration work 9.2
    • Chapters 9.3
    • Autobiography, writing 9.4
    • Catalogue raisonné, etc. 9.5
  • References 10
  • External links 11

Early life: 1929–1949

Born in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, as the fourth child in a prosperous and conservative family,[8] whose wealth was derived from the management of wholesale seed nurseries,[9] Kusama has experienced hallucinations and severe obsessive thoughts since childhood, often of a suicidal nature. She claims that as a small child she suffered severe physical abuse by her mother.[10] In 1948, she left home to enter senior class at Kyoto Municipal School of Arts and Crafts, where she studied Nihonga painting, a rigorous formal style developed during the Meiji period; she graduated the following year.[8] She hated the rigidities of the master-disciple system where students were supposed to imbibe tradition through the sensei. "When I think of my life in Kyoto," she is quoted as saying, "I feel like vomiting."[11]


Early success in Japan: 1950–1956

By 1950, Kusama was depicting abstracted natural forms in watercolor, gouache and oil, primarily on paper. She began covering surfaces (walls, floors, canvases, and later, household objects and naked assistants) with the polka dots that would become a trademark of her work. The vast fields of polka dots, or "infinity nets," as she called them, were taken directly from her hallucinations. The earliest recorded work in which she incorporated these dots was a drawing in 1939 at age 10, in which the image of a Japanese woman in a kimono, presumed to be the artist's mother, is covered and obliterated by spots.[12] Her first series of large-scale, sometimes more than 30 ft-long canvas paintings,[11] Infinity Nets, were entirely covered in a sequence of nets and dots that alluded to hallucinatory visions. In the early 1960s Kusama began to cover items such as ladders, shoes and chairs with white phallic protrusions.[13] Despite the micromanaged intricacy of the drawings, she turned them out fast and in bulk, establishing a rhythm of productivity she still maintains. She established other habits too, like having herself routinely photographed with new work.[14]

Since 1963, Kusama has continued her series of Mirror/Infinity rooms. In these complex installations, purpose-built rooms lined with mirrored glass contain scores of neon coloured balls, hanging at various heights above the viewer. Standing inside on a small platform, light is repeatedly reflected off the mirrored surfaces to create the illusion of a never-ending space.[15]

New York City: 1957–1972

After living in Tokyo and France, Kusama left Japan at the age of 27 for the United States. In 1957 she moved to

External links

  1. ^ Kate Deimling (May 16, 2012), Kusama Writes of Hunger, Grudges, and Necking With Joseph Cornell in Her Odd Autobiography, BLOUINARTINFO France.
  2. ^ Farah Nayeri (February 14, 2012), Man-Hating Artist Kusama Covers Tate Modern in Dots: Interview Bloomberg.
  3. ^ Chappo, Ashley. "The Stunning Story of the Woman Who Is the World’s Most Popular Artist". Observer. Retrieved 13 June 2015. 
  4. ^ Love Forever : Yayoi Kusama, 1958–1968, July 9 - September 22, 1998, The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
  5. ^ YAYOI KUSAMA, July 12 – Sept 30, 2012, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
  6. ^ Yayoi Kusama, 9 February – 5 June 2012, Tate Modern, London.
  7. ^ New York art sales The Guardian, retrieved November 2008
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Yayoi Kusama Timeline Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane.
  9. ^ Catalogue, Tate Modern exhibition, London, 2012
  10. ^ 2007 interview at
  11. ^ a b c d David Pilling (January 20, 2012), The world according to Yayoi Kusama Financial Times Weekend Magazine.
  12. ^ a b Yayoi Kusama, November 18, 1998 – January 8, 1999 Victoria Miro Gallery, London.
  13. ^ a b Yayoi Kusama MoMA Collection, New York.
  14. ^ a b Holland Cotter (July 12, 2012), Vivid Hallucinations From a Fragile Life - Yayoi Kusama at Whitney Museum of American Art New York Times.
  15. ^ (2002)Soul under the moonYayoi Kusama: Queensland Art Gallery, Queensland.
  16. ^ Zoë Dusanne: An Art Dealer Who Made a Difference, p99, by Jo Ann Ridley; Fithian Press, 2011
  17. ^ Liu, Belin (February 26, 2009), Yayoi Kusama,  
  18. ^ Carl Swanson (July 8, 2012), The Art of the Flame-Out New York Magazine.
  19. ^ Yayoi Kusama: Flowers That Bloom Tomorrow, October 7, – November 13, 2010 Victoria Miro Gallery, London.
  20. ^ McDonald, John (February 12, 2005), "Points of no return", Sydney Morning Herald, retrieved November 30, 2010 
  21. ^ Art Review (interview), 2007 
  22. ^  
  23. ^ Bayly, Zac (2012), "Yayoi Kusama", Zac-Attack (interview), retrieved Sep 21, 2013 
  24. ^ Kusama, Yayoi (1978), Manhattan jisatsu misui joshuhan [Manhattan Suicide Addict], Tokyo: Kosakusha , (extract) reproduced in Hoptman, Yayoi Kusama, et al., p. 124 
  25. ^ Yayoi Kusama (collection), New York: MoMA 
  26. ^ Yayoi Kusama, New York/Los Angeles:  
  27. ^ Yayoi Kusama, London: Victoria Miro Gallery, February 7 – March 20, 2008 
  28. ^ Taylor, Rachel (2012). Yayoi Kusama: Recent Work 2009-2012. London: Tate.  
  29. ^ Yayoi Kusama Timeline Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane..
  30. ^ Midori Matsui, Interview: Yayoi Kusama, 1998 Index Magazine.
  31. ^ Art Editions: Yayoi Kusama KDDI Corporation. Archived June 20, 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  32. ^ Emili Vesilind (May 24, 2011), Lancôme collaborates with Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama on new Juicy Tubes Los Angeles Times.
  33. ^ Ann Binlot (January 9, 2012), Marc Jacobs Recruits Yayoi Kusama for Latest Louis Vuitton Collaboration BLOUINARTINFO.
  34. ^ Schultz, Stacy E. (2012). "Asian American Women Artists: Performative Strategies Redefined". Journal of Asian American Studies 15.1: 105–27. 
  35. ^ Kusama, April 16 – June 27, 2009 Gagosian Gallery, New York/Los Angeles.
  36. ^ Yayoi Kusama: Outdoor Sculptures, June 23, – July 25, 2009 Victoria Miro Gallery, London.
  37. ^ Laura Kusisto (August 2, 2012), 'Yellow Trees' Growing Wall Street Journal.
  38. ^ Des Houghton (June 08, 2012), Justice Minister Jarrod Bleijie condemns Yayoi Kusama artwork at new Supreme Court and District Court building in Brisbane The Courier-Mail.
  39. ^ Yayoi Kusama: Mirrored Years, 23 August – 19 October 2008 Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam.
  40. ^ "Yayoi Kusama at Fairchild", December 5, 2009 – May 30, 2010 Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.
  41. ^ "Yayoi Kusama". What's On. Tate Modern. Retrieved 2012-06-03. 
  42. ^ Trebuchet Magazine
  43. ^ Blouinartinfo (January 23, 2007). "Art News: Kusama First Japanese Woman to Win Coveted Art Award". BLOUINARTINFO. Retrieved April 23, 2008. 
  44. ^ "安吾賞-第9回 受賞者". Ango awards. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  45. ^ Bridget Moriarity (March 5, 2009), Artist Dossier: Yayoi Kusama ARTINFO.
  46. ^ Claudia Bodin (May 5, 2009), Kusama bleibt Kusama art – Das Kunstmagazin.
  47. ^ Charlotte Burns (14 December 2012), Yayoi Kusama also leaves Gagosian The Art Newspaper.
  48. ^ Sarah Thornton (May 20, 2012), The price of being female The Economist.
  49. ^ Cross-Cultural Journeys: Yayoi Kusama and Kenzo Okada Christie's.
  50. ^ Bridget Moriarity (March 5, 2009), Artist Dossier: Yayoi Kusama ARTINFO.
  51. ^ Kelly Crow (November 12, 2014), Christie’s Makes History With $853 Million Sale of Contemporary Art – Andy Warhol’s ‘Triple Elvis [Ferus Type]’ Sells for $82 Million Wall Street Journal.
  52. ^ open Retrieved 2015-01-30.
  53. ^ band
  54. ^ blog
  55. ^


  • Kusama, Yayoi. Yayoi Kusama: Print Works. Tokyo: Abe Corp, 1992. ISBN 978-4-872-42023-4 OCLC 45198668
  • Kusama, Yayoi, and Hideki Yasuda. Yayoi Kusama Furniture by Graf: Decorative Mode No. 3. Tōkyō: Seigensha Art Publishing, 2003. ISBN 978-4-916-09470-4 OCLC 71424904
  • Kusama, Yayoi. Kusama Yayoi zen hangashū, 1979-2004 = All Prints of Kusama Yayoi, 1979-2004. Tōkyō: Abe Shuppan, 2006. ISBN 978-4-872-42174-3 OCLC 173274568

Catalogue raisonné, etc.

  • Kusama, Yayoi. A Book of Poems and Paintings. Tokyo: Japan Edition Art, 1977.
  • Kusama, Yayoi. Kusama Yayoi: Driving Image = Yayoi Kusama. Tōkyō: PARCO shuppan, 1986. ISBN 978-4-891-94130-7 OCLC 54943729
  • Kusama, Yayoi, Ralph F. McCarthy, Hisako Ifshin, and Yayoi Kusama. Violet Obsession: Poems. Berkeley: Wandering Mind Books, 1998. ISBN 978-0-965-33043-5 OCLC 82910478
  • Kusama, Yayoi, Ralph F. McCarthy, Yayoi Kusama, and Yayoi Kusama. Hustlers Grotto: Three Novellas. Berkeley, Calif: Wandering Mind Books, 1998. ISBN 978-0-965-33042-8 OCLC 45665616
  • Kusama, Yayoi. Infinity Net: The Autobiography of Yayoi Kusama. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2011. ISBN 978-0-226-46498-5 OCLC 711050927
  • Kusama, Yayoï, and Isabelle Charrier. Manhattan Suicide Addict. Dijon: Presses du Réel, 2005. ISBN 978-2-840-66115-3 OCLC 420073474

Autobiography, writing

  • Nakajima, Izumi. "Yayoi Kusama between abstraction and pathology." Pollock, Griselda. Psychoanalysis and the Image: Transdisciplinary Perspectives. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub, 2006. pp. 127-160. ISBN 978-1-405-13460-6 OCLC 62755557
  • Klaus Podoll, "Die Künstlerin Yayoi Kusama als pathographischer Fall." Schulz R, Bonanni G, Bormuth M, eds. Wahrheit ist, was uns verbindet: Karl Jaspers' Kunst zu philosophieren. Göttingen, Wallstein, 2009. p. 119. ISBN 978-3-835-30423-9 OCLC 429664716
  • Cutler, Jody B. "Narcissus, Narcosis, Neurosis: The Visions of Yayoi Kusama." Wallace, Isabelle Loring, and Jennie Hirsh. Contemporary Art and Classical Myth. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2011. pp. 87-109. ISBN 978-0-754-66974-6 OCLC 640515432


  • Carroll, Lewis, and Yayoi Kusama. Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. London: Penguin Classics, 2012. ISBN 978-0-141-19730-2 OCLC 54167867

Illustration work

  • Rodenbeck, J.F. "Yayoi Kusama: Surface, Stitch, Skin." Zegher, M. Catherine de. Inside the Visible: An Elliptical Traverse of 20th Century Art in, of, and from the Feminine. Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press, 1996. ISBN 978-0-262-54081-0 OCLC 33863951
  • Kusama, Yayoi, and Damien Hirst. Yayoi Kusama Now. New York, N.Y.: Robert Miller Gallery, 1998. ISBN 978-0-944-68058-2 OCLC 42448762
    • Robert Miller Gallery, New York, June 11-Aug. 7, 1998.
  • Kusama, Yayoi, and Lynn Zelevansky. Love Forever: Yayoi Kusama, 1958-1968. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1998. ISBN 978-0-875-87181-3 OCLC 39030076
  • Kusama, Yayoi. Yayoi Kusama. Wien: Kunsthalle Wien, 2002. ISBN 978-3-852-47034-4 OCLC 602369060
  • Kusama, Yayoi. Yayoi Kusama. Paris: Les Presses du Reel, 2002. ISBN 978-0-714-83920-2 OCLC 50628150
  • Hoptman, Laura, Akira Tatehata, and Udo Kultermann. Yayoi Kusama. London: Phaidon Press, 2003. ISBN 978-0-714-83920-2 OCLC 749417124
    • Seven European exhibitions in France, Germany, Denmark, etc.; 2001 - 2003.
  • Kusama, Yayoi. Kusamatorikkusu = Kusamatrix. Tōkyō: Kadokawa Shoten, 2004. ISBN 978-4-048-53741-4 OCLC 169879689
    • Mori Art Museum, 7 February - 9 May, 2004; Mori Geijutsu Bijutsukan, Sapporo, 5 June - 22 August 2004.
  • Kusama, Yayoi, and Tōru Matsumoto. Kusama Yayoi eien no genzai = Yayoi Kusama : eternity-modernity. Tōkyō: Bijutsu Shuppansha, 2005. ISBN 978-4-568-10353-3 OCLC 63197423
    • Tōkyō Kokuritsu Kindai Bijutsukan, Oct. 26-Dec. 19, 2004; Kyōto Kokuritsu Kindai Bijutsukan, Jan. 6-Feb. 13, 2005; Hiroshima-shi Gendai Bijutsukan, Feb. 22-Apr. 17, 2005; Kumamoto-shi Gendai Bijutsukan, Apr. 29-July 3, 2005; at Matsumoto-shi Bijutsukan, July 30-Oct. 10, 2005.
  • Applin, Jo, and Yayoi Kusama. Yayoi Kusama. London: Victoria Miro Gallery, 2007. ISBN 978-0-955-45644-2 OCLC 501970783
  • Kusama, Yayoi. Yayoi Kusama. New York: Gagosian Gallery, 2009. ISBN 978-1-932-59894-0 OCLC 320277816
    • Gagosian Gallery, New York, Apr. 16-Jun. 27, 2009; Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills, May 30-Jul. 17, 2009.
  • Morris, Frances, and Jo Applin. Yayoi Kusama. London: Tate Publishing, 2012. ISBN 978-1-854-37939-9 OCLC 781163109
  • Kusama, Yayoi, and Akira Tatehata. Yayoi Kusama: I Who Have Arrived in Heaven. New York: David Zwirner, 2014. ISBN 978-0-989-98093-7 OCLC 879584489

Exhibition catalogs

Works and publications

  • Superchunk, an American indie band, included a song called "Art Class (Song for Yayoi Kusama)" on its Here's to Shutting Up album.
  • Yoko Ono cites Kusama as an influence.
  • The 2004 Matsumoto Performing Art Center in Kusama's hometown Matsumoto, designed by Toyo Ito, has an entirely dotted façade.[52]
  • She is mentioned in the lyrics of the Le Tigre song "Hot Topic".
  • In 2013 the British indie pop duo The Boy Least Likely To made song tribute to Yayoi Kusama, writing a song specially about her.[53] They wrote on their blog that they admire Kusama's work because she puts her fears into it, something that they themselves often do.[54]
  • The Nels Cline Singers dedicated one track, "Macroscopic (for Kusama-san)" of their 2014 album, Macroscope to Kusama.[55]

In popular culture

Kusama's work has performed strongly at auction: top prices for her work are for paintings from the late 1950s and early 1960s. As of 2012, her work has the highest turnover of any living woman artist.[48] In November 2008, Christie's New York sold a 1959 white "Infinity Net" painting formerly owned by Donald Judd,[8] No. 2, for US$5.1 million, then a record for a living female artist.[49] In comparison, the highest price for a sculpture from her New York years is £72,500 (US$147,687), fetched by the 1965 wool, pasta, paint and hanger assemblage Golden Macaroni Jacket at Sotheby's London in October 2007. A 2006 acrylic on fiberglass-reinforced plastic pumpkin earned $264,000, the top price for one of her sculptures, also at Sotheby's in 2007[50] Her 'Flame of Life - Dedicated to Tu-Fu (Du-Fu)' sold for US$960,000 at Art Basel/Hong Kong in May 2013, the highest price paid at the show. Kusama became the most expensive living female artist at auction when White No. 28 (1960) from her signature “Infinity Nets” series sold for $7.1 million at a 2014 Christie's auction.[51]

In the 1960s, Beatrice Perry's Gres Gallery played an important role in establishing Kusama's career in the United States. Ota Fine Arts, Kusama's longtime Tokyo dealer, has worked with the artist since the 1980s.[45] Kusama left Gagosian Gallery in late 2012; before moving to Gagosian, she had been with Robert Miller Gallery, New York.[46][47] Kusama has been represented by Victoria Miro Gallery since the early 2000s, and joined David Zwirner in 2013. The artist is currently represented by David Zwirner, Ota Fine Arts, and Victoria Miro Gallery.

Anti-graffiti art inspired by Kusama's polka dot motif serving as (from a distance) camouflage in Idaho in 2015.

Art market

Kusama has received numerous awards, including the Asahi Prize (2001); Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2003); and the National Lifetime Achievement Awards, the Order of the Rising Sun (2006). In October 2006, Yayoi Kusama became the first Japanese woman to receive the Praemium Imperiale, one of Japan's most prestigious prizes for internationally recognized artists.[43] Also she received the Person of Cultural Merit (2009) and Ango awards (2014).[44]


Kusama's work is in the collections of leading museums throughout the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix; Tate Modern, London; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.


  • 1976: Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art
  • 1987: Fukuoka, Japan
  • 1989: Center for International Contemporary Arts, New York
  • 1993: Represented Japan at the Venice Biennale
  • 1998–1999: Retrospective exhibition of work toured the U.S. and Japan
  • 1998: "Love Forever: Yayoi Kusama,1958–1969", LACMA
  • 2000: Le Consortium, Dijon
    • 2001–2003: Le Consortium - exhibit traveled to Maison de la Culture du Japon, Paris; Kunsthallen Brandts, Odense, Denmark; Les Abattoirs, Toulouse; Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna; and Artsonje Center, Seoul
  • 2004: "KUSAMATRIX", Mori Art Museum, Tokyo
  • 2007: FINA Festival 2007. Kusama created Guidepost to the New Space, a vibrant outdoor installation for Birrarung Marr beside the Yarra River in Melbourne. In 2009, the Guideposts were re-installed at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, this time displayed as floating "humps" on a lake.[40]
  • 2008: "The Mirrored Years", Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
  • August 2010: Aichi Triennale 2010, Nagoya. Works were exhibited inside the Aichi Arts Center, out of the center and Toyota car polka dot project.
  • July 2011: Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain.
  • 2012: Tate Modern, London.[41] Described as 'akin to being suspended in a beautiful cosmos gazing at infinite worlds, or like a tiny dot of fluoresecent plankton in an ocean of glowing microscopic life',[42] the exhibition features work from Kusama's entire career.
  • July 15, 2013 to November 3, 2013: Daegu Art Museum, Daegu, Korea.
  • June 30, 2013 to September 16, 2013: MALBA, the Latinamerican Art Museum of Buenos Aires, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Yayoi Kusama's retrospective exhibition at Tate Modern, London in early 2012.

Exhibition list

In 1959, Kusama had her first solo exhibition in New York at the Brata Gallery, an artist's co-op. She showed a series of white net paintings which were enthusiastically reviewed by Donald Judd (both Judd and Frank Stella then acquired paintings from the show).[12] Kusama has since exhibited work with, among others, Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol, and Jasper Johns. Exhibiting alongside European artists including Lucio Fontana, Pol Bury, Otto Piene, and Gunther Uecker, in 1962 she was the only female artist to take part in the widely acclaimed Nul (Zero) international group exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.[39]


In 2010, Kusama designed a Town Sneaker-model bus, which she titled Mizutama Ranbu (Wild Polka Dot Dance) and whose route travels through her home town of Matsumoto.[8] In 2011, she was commissioned to design the front cover of millions of pocket London Underground maps; the result is entitled Polka Dots Festival in London (2011). Coinciding with an exhibition of the artist's work at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2012, a 120-foot reproduction of Kusama's painting Yellow Trees (1994) covered a condominium building under construction in New York's Meatpacking District.[37] That same year, Kusama conceived her floor installation Thousands of Eyes as a commission for the new Queen Elizabeth II Courts of Law, Brisbane.[38]

To date, Kusama has completed several major outdoor sculptural commissions, mostly in the form of brightly hued monstrous plants and flowers, for public and private institutions including Pumpkin (1994) for the Fukuoka Municipal Museum of Art; The Visionary Flowers (2002) for the Matsumoto City Museum of Art; Tsumari in Bloom (2003) for Matsudai Station, Niigata; Tulipes de Shangri-La (2003) for Euralille in Lille, France; Pumpkin (2006) at Bunka-mura on Benesse Island of Naoshima; Hello, Anyang with Love (2007) for Pyeonghwa Park, Anyang; and The Hymn of Life: Tulips (2007) for the Beverly Gardens Park in Los Angeles.[35] In 1998, she realized a mural for the hallway of the Gare do Oriente subway station in Lisbon. Alongside these monumental works, she has produced smaller scale outdoor pieces including Key-Chan and Ryu-Chan, a pair of dotted dogs. All the outdoor works are cast in highly durable fiberglass-reinforced plastic, then painted in urethane to glossy perfection.[36]

Narcissus Garden (2009), Instituto Inhotim, Brumadinho, Brazil.


In Yayoi Kusama’s Walking Piece (1966), a performance that was documented in a series of eighteen color slides, Kusama walks along the streets of New York City in a traditional Japanese kimono with a parasol. The kimono suggests traditional roles for women in Japanese custom. The parasol, however, is made to look inauthentic as it is really a black umbrella painted white on the exterior and decorated with fake flowers. Kusama walks down unoccupied streets in an unknown quest. She then turns and cries without reason, and eventually walks away and vanishes from view. This performance, through the association of the kimono, involves the stereotypes that Asian American women continue to face. However, as an avant-garde artist living in New York, her situation alters the context of the dress, creating a cross-cultural amalgamation. Kusama is able to point out the stereotype that her white American audience categorizes her in by showing the absurdity of cultural catergorizing people in the world’s largest melting pot.[34]


In 1968, Kusama established Kusama Fashion Company Ltd., and began selling avantgarde fashion in the "Kusama Corner" at Bloomingdales.[30] In 2009, Kusama designed a handbag-shaped cell phone entitled Handbag for Space Travel, My Doggie Ring-Ring, a pink dotted phone in accompanying dog-shaped holder, and a red and white dotted phone inside a mirrored, dotted box dubbed Dots Obsession, Full Happiness With Dots, for Japanese mobile communication giant KDDI Corporation's "iida" brand.[31] Each phone was limited to 1000 pieces. In 2011, Kusama created artwork for six limited-edition lipglosses from Lancôme.[32] That same year, she worked with Marc Jacobs (who visited her studio in Japan in 2006) on a line of Louis Vuitton products, including leather goods, ready-to-wear, accessories, shoes, watches, and jewelry.[33]


Red Pumpkin (2006), Naoshima

In 1968, the film Kusama's Self-Obliteration which Kusama produced and starred in won a prize at the Fourth International Experimental Film Competition in Belgium and the Second Maryland Film Festival and the second prize at the Ann Arbor Film Festival. In 1991, Kusama starred in the film Tokyo Decadence, written and directed by Ryu Murakami, and in 1993, she collaborated with British musician Peter Gabriel on an installation in Yokohama.[8]


In 1977, Kusama published a book of poems and paintings entitled 7. One year later, her first novel Manhattan Suicide Addict appeared. Between 1983 and 1990, she finished the novels The Hustler's Grotto of Christopher Street (1983), The Burning of St Mark's Church (1985), Between Heaven and Earth (1988), Woodstock Phallus Cutter (1988), Aching Chandelier (1989), Double Suicide at Sakuragazuka (1989), and Angels in Cape Cod (1990), alongside several issues of the magazine S&M Sniper in collaboration with photographer Nobuyoshi Araki.[29]



In her ninth decade, Kusama has continued to work as an artist. She has harked back to earlier work by returning to drawing and painting; her work remaining innovative and multi-disciplinary, and her most recent exhibition displayed multiple acrylic-on-canvas works. Also featured were an exploration of infinite space in her Infinity Mirror rooms; which typically involve a cube shaped room being clad with mirrors, water on the floor and flickering lights; which suggests a pattern of life and death.[28]

, a series of rounded "humps" in fire-engine red with white polka dots, was displayed in Pandanus Lake. Guidepost to the New Space The multi-part floating work [27] light. The result is an endless infinite space where the self and everything in the room is obliterated.UV is a simply furnished room consisting of table and chairs, place settings and bottles, armchairs and rugs, however its walls are tattooed with hundreds of fluorescent polka dots glowing in the I'm Here, but Nothing (2000–2008) Kusama's later installation [26] in 1993, a dazzling mirrored room filled with small pumpkin sculptures in which she resided in color-coordinated magician's attire, Kusama went on to produce a huge, yellow pumpkin sculpture covered with an optical pattern of black spots. The pumpkin came to represent for her a kind of alter-ego or self-portrait.Venice Biennale Following the success of the Japanese pavilion at the [25] Her organically

a polka-dot has the form of the sun, which is a symbol of the energy of the whole world and our living life, and also the form of the moon, which is calm. Round, soft, colorful, senseless and unknowing. Polka-dots become movement ... Polka dots are a way to infinity.[24]

Another quotation of hers:

One day I was looking at the red flower patterns of the tablecloth on a table, and when I looked up I saw the same pattern covering the ceiling, the windows and the walls, and finally all over the room, my body and the universe. I felt as if I had begun to self-obliterate, to revolve in the infinity of endless time and the absoluteness of space, and be reduced to nothingness. As I realized it was actually happening and not just in my imagination, I was frightened. I knew I had to run away lest I should be deprived of my life by the spell of the red flowers. I ran desperately up the stairs. The steps below me began to fall apart and I fell down the stairs straining my ankle.[23]

Yayoi Kusama said about her 1954 painting titled Flower (D.S.P.S),

In 1973, Kusama returned to Japan in ill health, where she began writing shockingly visceral and surrealistic novels, short stories, and poetry. Kusama checked herself into the Seiwa Hospital for the Mentally Ill and eventually took up permanent residence. She has been living at the hospital since, by choice. Her studio, where she has continued to produce work since the mid-1970s, is a short distance from the hospital in Shinjuku, Tokyo.[20] Kusama is often quoted as saying: "If it were not for art, I would have killed myself a long time ago."[21] She continued to paint, but now in high-colored acrylics on canvas, on an amped-up scale.[22]

Yayoi Kusama's Ascension of Polka Dots on the Trees at the Singapore Biennale 2006 on Orchard Road, Singapore

Return to Japan: 1973–present

During her time in New York, Kusama had a decade-long sexless relationship with the American artist Joseph Cornell, Kusama's only recorded romantic attachment to date.

In 1966, Kusama first participated in the 33rd Whitney Biennial in Central Park, New York in 2004; and at the Jardin de Tuileries in Paris, 2010.[19]

Kusama organized outlandish Museum of Modern Art.[13] In 1968, Kusama presided over the happening Homosexual Wedding at the Church of Self-obliteration in 33 Walker Street in New York, and performed alongside Fleetwood Mac and Country Joe and the Fish at the Fillmore East, New York City.[8] She opened naked painting studios and a gay social club called the Kusama 'Omophile Kompany (kok).[18]

[8] among her friends and supporters. However, she did not profit financially from her work. Around this time, Kusama was hospitalized regularly from overwork, and O'Keeffe convinced her own dealer Edith Herbert to purchase several works in order to help Kusama stave off financial hardship.Joseph Cornell; Hesse became a close friend. During the following years, she was enormously productive, and by 1966, she was experimenting with room-size, freestanding installations that incorporated mirrors, lights, and piped-in music. She counted Judd and Eva Hesse and sculptor Donald Judd movement. In 1961 she moved her studio into the same building as avant-garde During her time in the U.S., she quickly established her reputation as a leader in the [17]

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