Dec 3, 2013

Polka Dot Obsessed ~ Yayoi Kusama

Seeing the cover of the Art Issue of W Magazine, with a gorgeous George Clooney on the cover covered completely in black and white polka dots, reminded me of how much I adore Yayoi Kusama's work.

In the December/January Annual Art issue, George is transported into a different realm of sorts, by 5 female artists, and Yayoi is among them.

The now iconic Japanese 84 year old artist, began her career in the Kyoto, in the 1940's but soon after writing a letter to the artist, Georgia O’Keeffe, Kusama decided to join the bubbling New York art scene.

Among the likes of Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, Joseph Cornell and Donald Judd in the late 1950's, she quickly began to show her work among these contemporaries and make a name for herself in the avant garde art world.

image via 

Although life as an artist was at times the cruelest of existences, .."At times I had to look for things to eat in the garbage’ .. Kusama's entreprenurial spirit took charge and in 1969, she established Kusama Enterprise to take control of the demand of marketing and commercial material that was being created around her look and brand.

Very much a part of the time, anti Vietnam sentiment, the Beatles in full swing with Paul and John both in New York.. and Kusama organized what must be seen as the beginning of "performace art" as we know it now, with "experimental performances and socio-political happenings that included ticketed orgies during which the artist painted naked dancers with dots. ‘Some of the naked happenings in New York were against the Vietnam War,’ she says, ‘because the human body is too beautiful to be killed in that way. There were also naked anti-tax happenings because nudism doesn’t cost money."

In this 1967 photo released by Yayoi Kusama Studio Inc., Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama poses with a horse
titled "Horse Play" in Woodstock, New York. (AP Photo/Yayoi Kusama Studio Inc.)

Kusama's work from that time, Infinity Nets, which continue as a theme even today show more of a grid-like pattern with only a hint of the polka dot coming through. The water color like movement and texture to these canvases that I personally find tremendously beautiful. 


Kusama above, painting part of the series - White Infinity Nets

Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) Untitled (Infinity Nets) signed and dated 'YAYOI KUSAMA 1972' (on the stretcher) oil on canvas 42 x 36 1/8 in. (106.7 x 91.8 cm.) Sold at Christies New York  - May 2011  $902,500 (Estimated $350-450K)

above from 1972 and below from 2013 ..

Yayoi Kusama, INFINITY NETS [MAE], 2013, Acrylic on canvas
130.3 x 130.3 cm, 51 1/4 x 51 1/4 in, (KUSA 904), Courtesy Yayoi Kusama Studio, Inc., Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo / Singapore and Victoria Miro, London, © Yayoi Kusama

Once returned to Japan in the early 1970's, sadly Kusama's ideology was not welcomed with open arms, and after repeated attempts in reestablishing herself, and continuing to battle with the hallucinations and demons that haunted her throughout her life, she decided to admit herself to a hospital where she has lived for nearly 40 years.

Throughout this time until today, she continues to work and is now recognized throughout the world and part of brand campaigns, such as that of the recent Louis Vuitton campaign...


Perhaps a little less "glamorous" but one of my personal favorite pieces, was “The Obliteration Room”, a brilliant installation by Yayoi Kusama in The Queensland Gallery of Modern Art.

A room, made to look like the interior of an average Australian home where everything was painted completely white. Over the course of two weeks, children were invited to take part in the space, given thousands of coloured stickers and allowed to become artists themselves. 
This is the result.

and as fate would have it

Benjamin Norman for The New York Times

On Nov. 8, “Infinity Mirrored Room — The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away” by Yayoi Kusama at the David Zwirner Gallery in Chelsea "has become an art-world attraction to rival “Rain Room,” the installation presented at the Museum of Modern Art this year" and featured in The New York Times today.
Lines are supposed to be a nightmare, but .. I might just try my luck!

So go get your Polka Dot on and let inspiration reign today!

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