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Yayoi Kusama Seeing spots before your eyes !

May 1, 2017

Yayoi Kusama is obsessed with dots, pumpkins and mirrors, so much so that she has devoted her whole life as an artist to these subjects.  She famously creates all of her work in a studio near the Tokyo psychiatric facility in which she has lived, voluntarily, since 1977, having reported experiencing visual and auditory hallucinations her whole life. Prior to her admission, she spent a period of time living and working in New York City, where she was part of the avant-garde art scene, painting dots onto naked folk, in public areas, as part of an anti-war demonstration. Her message was always one, not of war, but to ‘Love Forever’.

During 1968 and 1969, Yayoi staged events across Manhattan, from the United Nations Building and the New York Stock Exchange to the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and Central Park’s Alice in Wonderland statue. Frequently, these happenings involved her working with groups of naked men and women covered with her signature polka dots and dancing on the streets, until inevitably they were forced to move along by the police. In one instance, at the Museum of Modern Art, eight nude participants struck poses in the fountain of the museum’s sculpture garden. By this stage, the art press was familiar with the rhetoric of Kusama’s anti-capitalist, anti-war, anti-establishment and free love happenings, however, this particular spectacle attracted front page coverage by the Daily News, who reported that museum security officers spent 20 minutes attempting to coax the performers out of the water. Yayoi famously referred to the art gallery as the ‘Mausoleum of Modern Art’  and said ‘What is modern there ? . . . Van Gogh, Cézanne, those other ghosts, all are dead or dying. While the dead show dead artists, living artists die’

“Pumpkins have been a great comfort to me since my childhood,” said Kusama. “They speak to me of the joy of living. They are humble and amusing at the same time, and I have and always will, celebrate them in my art.”

A retrospective of her 60-year career has recently been touring the world Museums and art spaces, which brought together everything from the 87-year-old artist’s early drawings and sketchbooks through to her iconic installations.

Kusama has also previously created a concept store for fashion brand Louis Vuitton at London’s Selfridges department store, which again featured her signature polka-dot patterns.

She’s also well known for creating her mirrored infinity rooms.

Where even the stars find her work a little dotty !

Whatever you may think about her work, I admire someone who has continued to follow and work with a theme over so many generations. You can read more about Yayoi’s ideas, philosophies and art here.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 1, 2017 8:55 pm

    Who knew you could do so much with pumpkins and spots.

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