Thursday, January 20, 2022

Meet the Weirdly Wonderful “Princess of Polka Dots” Yayoi Kusama

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One of the most important artistic icons coming out of Japan, Yayoi Kusama used artwork as an expression of her life. She pioneered work in sculptures, installations, paintings, and many forms of art. Even at 91 years old, Kusma still sports her colorful wigs and eccentric fashion.

Kusama voluntarily admitted into a psychiatric hospital for 40+ years. She’s had a history of neurosis, experiencing hallucinations since she was a child living in Japan. She went against her mother’s wishes of taking a traditional career path and pursued art, handling her illusions by drawing and painting her thoughts.

Kusama broke through with her trademark ​”Infinity Net” ​painting series after moving to New York in 1958. They were noticeably tall, sometimes spanning past 30 feet high. The paintings featured a repetition of curved brush strokes that seemingly went on forever as a form of her art therapy.

Known by some as being the “Princess of Polka Dots” Kusama was experimental, and wasn’t afraid to break new ground. She combined elements of feminism, minimalism, Pop art, and abstract expressionism with physiological and sexual content.

Installation by Yoyoi Kusama at Mattress Factory Art Museum Photo Credit :: Marius Watz

“Accumulations” was a series from the 1960’s where objects and even entire rooms were covered in hand sewn phallic protrusions. The protrusions were bright with colors or covered with her obsession of polka dots.

In ​”Accumulation No.1​” Kasuma covered an armchair with hundreds of stuffed phallic bulges showing off her sexual humor. She shocked critics and often welcomed controversy as she focused on her process rather than the outcome.

In 1965, Kusama took it one step further, creating ​”Infinity Rooms” ​an entire environment of art. Observers walked into a central themed room for a multi-sensory experience.

“Phalli’s Field” is a mirror room filled with thousands of stuffed phalli painted with red dots. She sewed all of the soft sculptures herself.

As of today, the New York Botanical Garden has a one time experience featuring Kasuma’s exhibition “KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature.” The exhibition expresses Kasuma’s engagement in nature with her earlier drawings and sculptures of botany. The presentation captures Kusama’s early life spent in the greenhouses and fields of her family’s seed nursery. Kasuma stated in regards to the exhibition, “We aspire for endless love permeated with everyone’s hearts of human love, a wish for peace in the world, our dreams, and wonders of hope—it is our wish that this exhibition can offer these as its greatest gift”. The special message was posted on the ​NYBG​ official website.

One of the most famous artists in the world, Kusama continuously breaks new ground in her art. She uses her creativity to produce innovative paintings, sculptures, fashion, and photography. Much like most of her artwork with feelings of eternity, Kasuma’s presence in the art world could last forever.

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