Yayoi Kusama

One of the most expensive living female artists, Yayoi Kusama is the woman behind the dots and the pumpkin, a free spirit and a moving Pop Art genius. Her works exhibit her fixation in psychedelic colors, repetition and pattern. Counted among the Top 10 living artists of 2015, she is also the first Japanese woman to receive the Praemium Imperiale, one of Japan's most prestigious honors for internationally recognized artists.

Born in Matsumoto, Nagano, into the family of a strict mother and a womanizer father, Kusama started creating art at an early age. Although her mother did not allow her to paint, art has become a form of rebellion for her. She started to study Nihonga painting at the Kyoto Municipal School of Arts and Crafts in 1948. However, more interested in the European and American avant-garde, she started creating abstract natural forms in watercolor, gouache and oil, primarily on paper, and staging solo exhibitions in Matsumoto and Tokyo by 1950.

Consumed with her hallucinations, 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 earliest recorded work in which she incorporated these dots was a drawing in 1939 at age 10, which depicts a Japanese woman in a kimono, believed to be her mother, covered in spots.

Overwhelmed by her parents’ “old customs and morals’ Yayoi Kusama left Japan at the age of 27 and moved to the United States. She first settled in Seattle but soon moved on to New York, the heart of what she loved. She quickly established her reputation as a leader in the avant-garde movement. During this time, she was overly productive, exhausting herself to the limit of hospitalization. By 1966, she was experimenting with room-size, freestanding installations that incorporated mirrors, lights, and piped-in music. Her closest friends were Donald Judd, Joseph Cornell and Georgia O’Keefe. She had a 10-year-long erotic but sexless relationship with Cornell, which is her only known romantic involvement. Despite using sex, nudity and abundance of phallic objects in her work, Kusama describes herself as asexual.

Forming a link between Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism, the “Infinity Nets” series earned her reputation in New York, when she first showed them in late-1950s. This series originated from visual hallucinations that she claims have haunted her since childhood. Her first disclosure about having hallucinatory episodes was in 1963, in an interview with the art critic Gordon Brown for WABC radio: “My nets grew beyond myself and beyond the canvases I was covering with them, […] They began to cover the walls, the ceiling, and finally the whole universe.” Another pattern Kusama had was having herself photographed with her new work, playing the role of both the subject and object. For Kusama, the body is a canvas and much of her work is based on identity or self-searching. Through the use of clothes, make-up, costumes, wigs, stereotypes and personas, Kusama both masquerades and promotes identity.

Since 1963, Kusama has continued her series of Mirror/Infinity rooms. In these complex installations, specially built rooms covered with mirrored glass and filled with neon or mirror balls, hanging on just lying around. A particularly notable mirrored installation is Kusama's "Narcissus Garden", first created in 1966 for the 33rd Venice Biennale. It consisted of hundreds of mirrored spheres that form a "kinetic carpet". As soon as the piece was installed on a lawn outside the Italian pavilion, Kusama, dressed in a golden kimono, began selling each individual sphere for 1,200 lire (US$2), until the Biennale organizers stopped her, which signifies her quirkiness greatly.

Kusama got associated with Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns and Claes Oldenburg in the early 60s and consecutively the Pop Art movement, which she influenced greatly. She became a fixture of the New York avant-garde and later embraced the rise of the hippie culture with its aspects of peace and free love. Kusama drew public attention when she organized performance art events, in which naked participants were painted with brightly colored polka dots. In order to protest the Vietnam War, she wrote an open letter to Richard Nixon offering to have vigorous sex with him if he would stop the Vietnam War.

Apart from dots, another recurrent figure in Kusama’s work is the pumpkin, which she also used in her iconic installation at the 1993 Venice Biennale. The pumpkin came to represent her alter ego, and she says she finds pumpkins comforting since she was a child and “visually humorous”.

In 1973, Kusama returned to Tokyo in ill health and withdrew herself from the New York art scene for a while. She wrote surrealistic literature deeply relating to her inner feelings and psychology. In 1977 she checked herself into the Seiwa Hospital for the Mentally Ill, where she eventually decided to stay permanently. Since then, she has been living at the hospital by choice, and continued to create with her studio only a short distance from the hospital in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

Kusama is often quoted as saying: "If it were not for art, I would have killed myself a long time ago." Kusama continues to produce and show in exhibitions worldwide. With long queues to see her work, she broke world records for selling the most exhibition tickets. She is also the second most expensive living female artist with the sale of “White No. 28” in 2014, at Christie’s New York, which sold for $7,109,000. Before that, In November 2008, again Christie's New York sold a 1959 white "Infinity Net" painting, formerly owned by Donald Judd, for US$5.1 million, then a record for a living female artist.

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May 29, 2016 0
YAYOI KUSAMA (Japan, B. 1929)
YAYOI KUSAMA (Japan, B. 1929)
YAYOI KUSAMA (Japan, B. 1929) A Pumpkin YB-D numbered ‘45/120’; tit...
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Jun 21, 2007 1
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) Doku Doku & Bun Bun Doku Doku: signed, title...
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Jun 28, 2000 2
Yayoi Kusama (B. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (B. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (B. 1929) Flower Chair signed, titled, dated and inscr...
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Apr 05, 2007 3
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) Interminable Nets (Green no. 53) signed, tit...
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May 08, 2000 4
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) Silver Shoe signed and dated 'Kusama 1976' (...
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Sep 11, 2008 5
Yayoi Kusama (B. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (B. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (B. 1929) Pumpkin (Blue) etching in colours, 2006, on ...
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Nov 24, 2013 6
Yayoi Kusama (B. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (B. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (B. 1929) Lemon Tea signed 'YAYOI KUSAMA' in English a...
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Nov 19, 2016 7
Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama
DOTS (TWPA) DOTS (TWPA) DOTS (TWPA) DOTS (TWPA) signed, titled and ...
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Nov 19, 2016 8
Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama
DOTS (TOPQ) DOTS (TOPQ) DOTS (TOPQ) DOTS (TOPQ) signed, titled and ...
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Dec 03, 2013 9
Yayoi KUSAMA (née en 1929) - MANTIS, 1981
Yayoi KUSAMA (née en 1929) - MANTIS, 1981
Yayoi KUSAMA (née en 1929) MANTIS, 1981 Technique mixte et collage ...
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Mar 27, 2015 10
Yayoi Kusama, Polka Dots, for Louis Vuitton, Digital Print,2012
Yayoi Kusama, Polka Dots, for Louis Vuitto...
Digital c-print Fujicolor Crystal Archive Paper~~~France, 2012~~~Ya...
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Jun 12, 2010 11
Yayoi Kusama
Pumpkin - yellow, 2006.
Yayoi Kusama Pumpkin - yellow, 2006.
Etching and aquatint Signed, dated, numbered 4/8 and titled. On hea...
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Jun 09, 2016 12
Yayoi Kusama Sea, 1989
Yayoi Kusama Sea, 1989
Screenprint in colours, on Izumi paper, with full margins, I. 44.8 ...
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Nov 13, 1998 13
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) Pumpkin: Two Works each: signed, titled and ...
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May 17, 2007 14
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) Infinity-Nets (OQ6) signed, titled, numbered...
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May 15, 2001 15
YAYOI KUSAMA (b. 1929)
YAYOI KUSAMA (b. 1929)
YAYOI KUSAMA (b. 1929) Untitled signed and dated 'YAYOI KUSAMA 1976...
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Sep 11, 2008 16
Yayoi Kusama (B. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (B. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (B. 1929) Morning Sun screenprint in colours, 1999, on...
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Oct 18, 2013 17
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) Infinity Nets (T.W.A) signed, titled and dat...
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Nov 19, 2016 18
Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama
INFINITY-NETS  INFINITY-NETS  INFINITY-NETS  INFINITY-NETS signed, ...
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Nov 19, 2016 19
Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama
INFINITY NETS (XAZ) INFINITY NETS (XAZ) INFINITY NETS (XAZ) INFINIT...
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Feb 14, 2014 20
Louis VUITTON, Rare Keepall 55 Edition Limitée Yayoi Kusama en toile m
Louis VUITTON, Rare Keepall 55 Edition Lim...
Louis VUITTON, Rare Keepall 55 Edition Limitée Yayoi Kusama en toil...
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Jun 09, 2016 22
Yayoi Kusama Infinity, 1953-1984
Yayoi Kusama Infinity, 1953-1984
Etching, on Arches paper, with full margins, I. 19.7 x 36.2 cm (7 3...
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Nov 20, 2015 23
Yayoi Kusama, ‘High Heels', Screenprint, 1986
Yayoi Kusama, ‘High Heels', Screenpr...
Screenprint in colors on Arches paper~~~Japan, 1986~~~Yayoi Kusama ...
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May 12, 2004 24
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) Flower O.W.E. signed, titled and dated 'FLOW...
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May 17, 2007 25
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) Infinity-Nets (OQ1) signed, titled, numbered...
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May 29, 2016 26
YAYOI KUSAMA (Japan, B. 1929)
YAYOI KUSAMA (Japan, B. 1929)
YAYOI KUSAMA (Japan, B. 1929) Pumpkin 2 Dated ‘1988’ ’97’; signed ‘...
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Oct 19, 2013 27
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) Infinity Nets No. 39 signed, numbered, inscr...
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Nov 12, 2003 28
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) Sea of Night signed, titled and dated 'Yayoi...
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Oct 20, 2004 29
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) Heart signed, inscribed and dated 'Yayoi Kus...
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Nov 12, 2014 30
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) White No. 28 signed and dated 'YAYOI KUSAMA ...
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Feb 09, 2007 31
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) Infinity Nets (Z, Q, O) signed, titled and d...
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Nov 19, 2016 32
Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama
INFINITY-NETS OPYTSDB (GOLD) INFINITY-NETS OPYTSDB (GOLD) INFINITY-...
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Nov 19, 2016 33
Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama
LEMON SQUASH LEMON SQUASH LEMON SQUASH LEMON SQUASH signed, titled ...
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Jun 12, 2007 34
Yayoi Kusama
Ochiba (The fallen leaves), 1989.
Yayoi Kusama Ochiba (The fallen leaves), 1...
Ochiba (The fallen leaves) . 1989. Acryl auf Leinwand. Verso signie...
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Jul 04, 2016 35
LOUIS VUITTON par Yayoi KUSAMA 2012 - Edition limitée
LOUIS VUITTON par Yayoi KUSAMA 2012 - Edit...
LOUIS VUITTON par Yayoi KUSAMA 2012 Edition limitée SAC 'SPEEDY' 30...
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Jun 09, 2016 36
Yayoi Kusama Snail, 1989
Yayoi Kusama Snail, 1989
Screenprint in colours, on Izumi paper, with full margins, I. 45.2 ...
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Jun 09, 2016 37
Yayoi Kusama Infinity Nets (B), 1994
Yayoi Kusama Infinity Nets (B), 1994
Etching, on Arches paper, with full margins, I. 29.5 x 41.8 cm (11 ...
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Jun 09, 2016 38
Yayoi Kusama River Wave, 1993
Yayoi Kusama River Wave, 1993
Etching, on Arches paper, with full margins, I. 27.3 x 21.7 cm (10 ...
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Dec 03, 2013 39
Yayoi KUSAMA (née en 1929) - A NEST, 1981
Yayoi KUSAMA (née en 1929) - A NEST, 1981
Yayoi KUSAMA (née en 1929) A NEST, 1981 Technique mixte et collage ...
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Oct 19, 2013 40
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) Dots signed, titled and dated 'Dots Yayoi Ku...
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Nov 11, 2004 41
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) Infinity Nets signed, titled and dated '1959...
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Sep 30, 2015 43
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) The Castle signed and dated 'YAYOI KUSAMA 19...
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Nov 24, 2013 44
Yayoi Kusama (B. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (B. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (B. 1929) Statue of Venus Obliterated by Infinity Nets...
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Feb 14, 2014 45
Yayoi Kusama (B.1929)
Yayoi Kusama (B.1929)
Yayoi Kusama (B.1929) Infinity Nets No. 22 signed, titled and dated...
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Jun 04, 1998 46
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) Elizabeth Taylor (Caged) signed, titled and ...
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May 15, 2001 47
YAYOI KUSAMA (b. 1929)
YAYOI KUSAMA (b. 1929)
YAYOI KUSAMA (b. 1929) Silver Night signed, titled and dated 'YAYOI...
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Jun 07, 2000 48
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) Stamens-Sorrow signed, titled and dated 'YAY...
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May 12, 2004 49
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) Untitled signed and dated '1952 KUSAMA' (low...
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Nov 19, 2016 50
Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama
TO THE 21ST CENTURY TO THE 21ST CENTURY TO THE 21ST CENTURY TO THE ...
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Jun 09, 2016 51
Yayoi Kusama Infinity, 1995
Yayoi Kusama Infinity, 1995
Etching, on Fukui-shi paper, with full margins, I. 39.5 x 54.5 cm (...
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