Ocula MagazineContentsView All
Featured ContentView All
Jess Johnson: Worlds Within Worlds Ocula Conversation Jess Johnson: Worlds Within Worlds

Geometric patterns, anthropomorphic characters, architectural spatial environments, and relics of the ancient world appear throughout Jess Johnson's artworks.Johnson's solo art-ventures began in drawing, but her long-term collaborative relationship with animator Simon Ward brings her drawings to life in videos and virtual reality. The animator has...

Fade out copy.
Read More
Melati Suryodarmo: Performance Art as Trigger Ocula Conversation Melati Suryodarmo: Performance Art as Trigger

In 2012, Melati Suryodarmo opened Studio Plesungan in her native Surakarta, also known as Solo, the historic royal capital of the Mataram Empire of Java in Indonesia. Suryodarmo had returned to Indonesia from Germany, where she studied Butoh and choreography with Butoh dancer and choreographer Anzu Furukawa, time-based media with avantgarde...

Fade out copy.
Read More
Lagos Biennial 2019: Stories from Africa’s most Populous City Ocula Report Lagos Biennial 2019: Stories from Africa’s most Populous City 15 Nov 2019 : Jareh Das for Ocula

Under the direction of Folakunle Oshun, the second edition of the Lagos Biennial (26 October–23 November 2019) includes works by over 40 Lagos-based and international artists, architects, and collectives. Curated by architect Tosin Oshinowo, curator and producer Oyindamola Fakeye, and assistant curator of photography at the Art Institute of...

Fade out copy.
Read More
Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough Ocula Insight | Video
Sponsored Content | Mazzoleni Gallery
Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough 15 October 2019

Hans Hartung and Art Informel at Mazzoleni London (1 October 2019-18 January 2020) presents key works by the French-German painter while highlighting his connection with artists active in Paris during the 50s and 60s. In this video, writer and historian Alan Montgomery discusses Hartung's practice and its legacy.Born in Leipzig in 1904, Hans...

Fade out copy.
Read More

Yayoi Kusama

b. 1929, Japan

Sometimes referred to as the 'princess of polka dots', Yayoi Kusama is widely recognised as one of the best-selling female artists of the 21st century. Her hypnotic, dotty dreamworlds have led to a worldwide museum craze—between 2014 and 2019, more than five million people queued for the artist's exhibitions around the world.

Born into a wealthy but allegedly unhappy family in Matsumoto, Japan, in 1929, Kusama felt discouraged from creating art by her mother and father. As a child, art-making became an act of rebellion for her. Her training as an artist began at Kyoto Municipal School of Arts and Crafts, where she studied nihonga—a form of traditional Japanese painting. However, the artist disagreed with the rigid hierarchy of the genre. In hopes of finding success in the United States, she wrote to painter Georgia O'Keeffe (whose address she had found at the American Embassy in Tokyo) for advice on entering the New York art world. To her surprise, O'Keeffe replied, warning her of the difficulties of working in the city.

In 1958, Yayoi Kusama found the courage to relocate to New York, where she found herself in the thick of the avant-garde movements of the time. Surrounded by Minimalism and Pop art and incorporating elements of both into her work, the artist's critical acclaim is pinned to the 'Infinity Net' series (1958–ongoing) that she began at this time: canvases engulfed by hundreds or thousands of small, colourful loops of paint. In 2014, White No. 28, which belongs to the series, reached USD7.1 million at Christie's.

Yayoi Kusama's artwork has often referred to repetition of form as offering her solace from the traumas she has battled with since her youth. As a young girl, the artist recalls that her mother would ask her to spy on her father and she has referred to the frequently incorporated phallic forms in her work, as seen in her 'Accumulation' series, begun in 1962, as an act of reconciliation with her childhood fears regarding what she might see. 'Accumulation' comprises soft sculptures made of found furniture covered in sewn, white penis forms. Later, the artist would fill entire rooms with these soft forms—such as Compulsion Furniture (Accumulation) (c 1964): a room filled with phallus-covered furniture. The installations that she created in the 1960s were precursors to her best-known infinity rooms of today.

In 1965, mirrors first appeared in Yayoi Kusama's work Infinity Mirror Room—Phalli's Field (1965), in which the floor of a square, mirrored room was covered in a layer of white, stuffed phalluses dotted in red. In recent years, the artist's repetitive dot motifs have spawned a set of infinity mirror-room exhibitions internationally, including Yayoi Kusama: Infinite Obsession, whose worldwide tour reached the biggest global audience for an art exhibition in 2015. In 2017, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC debuted another touring exhibition titled Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror. Two-hour queueing times did not dampen the enthusiasm of thousands of visitors, who were granted a brief half-minute slot of solitude within the infinity mirror rooms.

A decline in the artist's mental health in the early 1970s saw her return to Japan. In 1977, she checked herself into a psychiatric hospital in Tokyo where she has lived ever since—her studio is located across the road. In 2017, the Yayoi Kusama Museum was founded in Shinjuku Ward and dedicated to her life-long practice, while 2018 marked the release of a Yayoi Kusama documentary, entitled Yayoi Kusama: Infinity. Directed by Heather Lenz, the Yayoi Kusama documentary traces the artist's career, showing her not solely as a product of social media and market success, but an example of perseverance against the odds.

Biography by John Hurrell | Ocula | 2019
Fade out copy.
Read More

Featured Artworks

View All (53)
INFINITY NETS [GGF] by Yayoi Kusama contemporary artwork
Yayoi KusamaINFINITY NETS [GGF], 2017 Acrylic on canvas
145.5 x 112 cm
Waddington Custot
Early Spring by Yayoi Kusama contemporary artwork
Yayoi KusamaEarly Spring, 1983 Enamel varnish and ink on cardboard
27.3 x 24.2 cm
Beck & Eggeling International Fine Art
GARDEN OF WOMEN IN BLOOMING YOUTH by Yayoi Kusama contemporary artwork
Yayoi KusamaGARDEN OF WOMEN IN BLOOMING YOUTH, 2018 Acrylic on canvas
194 x 194 cm
Sold
Victoria Miro
PUMPKIN [WUTIU] by Yayoi Kusama contemporary artwork
Yayoi KusamaPUMPKIN [WUTIU], 2018 Acrylic on canvas
100 x 100 cm
Victoria Miro
Flowers That Bloom Tomorrow L by Yayoi Kusama contemporary artwork
Yayoi KusamaFlowers That Bloom Tomorrow L, 2010 Fibreglass reinforced plastic, metal and urethane paint
200 x 340 x 200 cm
Sold
Victoria Miro
Pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama contemporary artwork
Yayoi KusamaPumpkin, 2009 Fibreglass reinforced plastic and paint
100 x 120 x 120 cm
Sold
Victoria Miro
SELF-PORTRAIT BELROS by Yayoi Kusama contemporary artwork
Yayoi KusamaSELF-PORTRAIT BELROS, 2010 Acrylic on canvas
162 x 130 cm
Sold
Victoria Miro

Current & Recent Exhibitions

View All (15)
Contemporary art exhibition, Yayoi Kusama, Yayoi Kusama at David Zwirner, New York
Open Now
9 November–14 December 2019 Yayoi Kusama Yayoi Kusama David Zwirner, 20th Street, New York
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, 25 Years of Passion at Beck & Eggeling International Fine Art, Düsseldorf
Closed
2 April–11 May 2019 Group Exhibition 25 Years of Passion Beck & Eggeling International Fine Art, Düsseldorf
Contemporary art exhibition, Yayoi Kusama, THE MOVING MOMENT WHEN I WENT TO THE UNIVERSE at Victoria Miro, London
Closed
3 October–21 December 2018 Yayoi Kusama THE MOVING MOMENT WHEN I WENT TO THE UNIVERSE Victoria Miro, Wharf Road, London

Represented By

In Ocula Magazine

Daisuke Miyatsu: The Salaryman Collector Ocula Conversation
In Collaboration with Delfina Foundation
Daisuke Miyatsu: The Salaryman Collector

Japanese collector Daisuke Miyatsu has merged his life with a passion for collecting art perhaps more than any other collector today. Known as the 'salaryman collector', Miyatsu started his collecting journey as a surprisingly typical office worker with a limited budget for art, originally working in advertising and supplementing his salary as a...

Fade out copy.
Read More
In Memory of a Free Public: Harbour Arts Sculpture Park Ocula Report In Memory of a Free Public: Harbour Arts Sculpture Park 16 Mar 2018 : Hera Chan for Ocula

It was at Tamar Park that the initial sit-ins took place around the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, sparking the Umbrella Movement in 2014. Thousands of students advocated for universal suffrage in the response to electoral reforms enacted on Hong Kong by China's Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. It was here, on 26 September...

Fade out copy.
Read More
Two Exhibitions: Two Collections - Japan Focus Ocula Report Two Exhibitions: Two Collections - Japan Focus 12 Sep 2014 : Annabel James for Ocula

Two private collection shows in Japan this summer revealed radically different ways to present and interpret the role of the contemporary art collector.

Fade out copy.
Read More
If Pigs Could Fly: A Report From Art Stage Singapore Ocula Report If Pigs Could Fly: A Report From Art Stage Singapore 28 Jan 2014 : Sherman Sam for Ocula

No art fair is complete without an inflatable, in this case a bright pink, flying pig (well actually this one doesn’t fly, but not every one can do a Pink Floyd). This larger-than-life work, Love Me (2013) by Jeong-Hwa Choi at the Vannessa Qwang Gallery, inflates then deflates slightly at a gentle pace, bringing one gallerist to remark...

Fade out copy.
Read More

In Related Press

View All (51)
Yayoi Kusama’s Mesmerizing, Meditative Garden Related Press Yayoi Kusama’s Mesmerizing, Meditative Garden Hyperallergic : 13 July 2018

My most recent visit to the Rockaways was to experience Yayoi Kusama’s magnificent Narcissus Garden (1966–present) in a still intact if ramshackle former train repair facility, dating to the time when Fort Tilden, now part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, was still an active military installation. Kusama, now 89 years old and one of the...

Fade out copy.
Read More
1,500 Yayoi Kusama Mirror Balls Beckon Beachgoers to the Rockaways Related Press 1,500 Yayoi Kusama Mirror Balls Beckon Beachgoers to the Rockaways Hyperallergic : 22 June 2018

First presented by the artist as an unofficial project outside the Italian pavilion at the 1966 Venice Biennale, Narcissus Garden (1966) consists of 1,500 reflective orbs spread throughout a space. In the work's first iteration, Kusama wore a golden kimono or red onesie and stood amid the plastic orbs alongside signs that read 'Narcissus Garden,'...

Fade out copy.
Read More
Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Narcissus Garden’ Is Coming to the Rockaways Related Press Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Narcissus Garden’ Is Coming to the Rockaways The New York Times : 18 June 2018

Art lovers and Instagram fanatics will both have a good reason to head to the Rockaways this summer: Yayoi Kusama's shimmering Narcissus Garden will be installed there starting July 1.The work is made up of 1,500 mirrored stainless steel spheres placed in the imposing confines of Fort Tilden, a former Army base on the beach in Queens. The spheres...

Fade out copy.
Read More
An alternative history of abstract art Related Press An alternative history of abstract art Apollo Magazine : 25 May 2018

Surface Work, a survey show of women abstract artists across Victoria Miro’s Mayfair and Wharf Road galleries, reveals an alternative history of how much women have already achieved.From the examples of the more than 50 artists in this show–some relatively unknown and others household names–it is obvious that women approached abstraction with just...

Fade out copy.
Read More

Sign up to be notified when new artworks and exhibitions by Yayoi Kusama are added to Ocula.

WeChat

Scan the QR Code via WeChat to follow Ocula's official account.

Scan to follow Ocula on WeChat.
iCal GoogleYahooOutlook