Yayoi Kusama b. 1929


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Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese artist known for her use of bright colors and polka dots. Kusama studied Nihonga, which is the traditional Japanese style of painting, in Kyoto. Upon completion of her studies, she quickly became disinterested in Nihonga and turned her attention to avant-garde American and European styles.


In 1957, Kusama moved to New York to pursue her career and began to produce abstract paintings and sculptures. In the 1960s, she showed her work alongside Andy Warhol, Claus Oldenburg and George Segal, which caused her to quickly gravitate towards the Pop Art movement. She also staged a series of events involving naked participants painted with polka dots in Central Park and on the Brooklyn Bridge to protest the Vietnam War. Kusama is best-known for her pumpkin and flower sculptures, Infinity-Net and Polka Dot paintings. The artist believes that 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."


 In 1973, Kusama returned to Japan and found herself taken aback by the conservative art scene she had left behind. The artist played a vital role in establishing contemporary art in Japan, in addition to motivating a new generation of female artists. Upon her return, her health began to diminish and she moved into a hospital near Shinjuku, Tokyo, which became her home and studio. Throughout Kusama's career, her work has been commissioned by parks and museums, exhibited in the 33rd Venice Biennale. She also created a clothing line with her Polka Dot series for Bloomingdales, Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs. In 2008, her work No. 2 (1959), formerly owned by Donald Judd, sold for $5.1 million, which was the highest price achieved by any female artist at the time. In 2014, she topped her personal record with the sale of White No. 28 (1960) for $6.2 million. Kusama continues to work in Japan, in addition to writing a series of books and an autobiography.


Yayoi Kusama has work featured in the permanent collections of the MoMA in New York, the LACMA, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Phoenix Art Museum, the Tate Modern in London, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo.


Related Categories: Dotted, Japan, Art of the 1960s, Molecular, Patterns, Pop Art, Performance Art, Sculpture, Installation, Repetition.