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Featured Artists

Yayoi Kusama

 

Born in Matsumoto (Nagano Prefecture, Japan) on March 29, 1929, Yayoi Kusama has experienced hallucinations and severe obsessive thoughts since childhood, often of a suicidal nature. She claims that as a small child she suffered severe physical abuse by her mother.

Early in Kusama's career, she began covering surfaces (walls, floors, canvases, and later, household objects and naked assistants) with the polka dots that would become a trademark of her work. The vast fields of polka dots, or "infinity nets," as she called them, were taken directly from her hallucinations.

She left her native country at the age of 27 for New York City, after years of correspondence with Georgia O'Keefe in which she became interested in joining the limelight in the city. During her time in the U.S., she quickly established her reputation as a leader in the avant-garde movement. She organized outlandish happenings in conspicuous spots like Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge, often involving nudity and designed to protest the Vietnam War. She was enormously productive, and counted Joseph Cornell and Donald Judd among her friends and supporters, but did not profit financially from her work. She returned to Japan in ill health in 1973.

Yayoi Kusama has exhibited work with Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol, and Jasper Johns. Kusama represented Japan at the Venice Biennale in 1993, and in 1998 & 1999 a major retrospective exhibition of her work toured the U.S. and Japan.

Today she lives, by choice, in a mental hospital in Tokyo, where she has continued to produce work since the mid-1970s. Her studio is a short distance from the hospital. "If it were not for art, I would have killed myself a long time ago," Kusama is often quoted as saying.

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