From the late 1950s, after she had moved to the United States, Kusama attracted attention by presenting large paintings repeatedly depicting meshes or polka dots.
Left to right: Installation view of Yayoi Kusama, Ennui, 1976, Accumulation, 1962-64, Red Stripes, 1965, Arm Chair, 1963, in “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” at the Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, 2017. “My desire was to predict and measure the infinity of the unbounded universe, from my own position in it, with dots,” she once wrote. There are 2,418 paintings online. She has consistently been pursuing expressions in which meshes and polka dots are accumulated and repeated. “By obliterating one’s individual self, one returns to the infinite universe,” Kusama explained in 1999. If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or moma.org, please email [email protected]. In the 1960s, as evident in these examples, the mesh style she had established in her paintings evolved into three-dimensional works. Techniques in metallurgy based on the use of bronze and iron were also introduced from China via Korea to Japan in this period.
A year after she made the film, Kusama began describing herself as the “High Priestess of Polka Dots,” and her SoHo loft as the “Church of Self-Obliteration.” It was there, in 1968, that she officiated a wedding between two gay men (an illegal union in New York at the time).
In other words, obliteration offered the artist an access point into a more fantastical, unrestrained world.
In 2002, for the installation “The Obliteration Room,” Kusama put polka dots into the hands of visitors themselves. Kusama went on to name this series of objects “Compulsion Furniture.” She later described.
They have cropped up in drawings, paintings, sculptures, and installations throughout her career.
She explored this idea in this 1967 film (her only one), made with. It depicted the kabocha—a kind of pumpkin used extensively in Japanese cooking—rendered in the late-19th century Japanese painting style of, It wasn’t until the 1970s, though, that pumpkins reappeared in her work, as a means of fusing abstraction and representation. After holding individual exhibitions at Takemiya Gallery and other locations, in 1957, Kusama went to the United States. But Kusama’s early sculptures went beyond symbolizing her psychological state. Today, at 89 years old, Kusama continues to create—spreading her ever-accumulating dots, and the sculptures and paintings they cover, around the world. (materials and technique, dimensions） Suitcase: acrylic on suitcase 46.0×70.0×19.0cm Stepladder: acrylic on wooden stepladder 252.0×57.0×155.0cm
Attracted to the social freedom and teeming postwar art scene in the United States, Kusama left Japan and moved to New York City in 1958. In 1977, she entered a Tokyo sanatorium for treatment of her compulsions, and has been living and making art there ever since.
Using colorful stickers, they collectively transformed a vapid white room into a warm, colorful sanctuary. One of her first three-dimensional works, But the forms she began to affix to found objects, like armchairs and ladders and shoes, weren’t so much nets as protuberances: soft, stuffed conical forms that looked more like fields of waving seaweed or forests of penises.
Indeed, Kusama became just as influential as that of her modernist, male predecessors. Want to know how some of the 20th century’s most celebrated artists made abstract paintings?
Over the next several years, Kusama inserted herself more boldly into New York’s public spaces. Oldenburg, in particular, was likely inspired by Kusama’s softening of hard-edged, everyday objects; in 1962, he, too, began making soft sculptures—sewn, stuffed, giant reproductions of deli sandwiches and toilets. Attracted to the social freedom and teeming postwar art scene in the United States, Kusama left Japan and moved to New York City in 1958. Covering sheets of paper with miniscule, repetitive marks not only fed her love of art, but also helped her cope with the stress-induced hallucinations she’d experienced from a young age.
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