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Artist Feature: Yayoi Kusama

Artist Feature: Yayoi Kusama

Written by:
Wendy Bonham-Carter
Feb 10, 2024

Yayoi Kusama’s bright world of patterns and polka dots is instantly recognizable and welcoming. The Japanese artist has been creating work since the 1950s and is also well-known for her Infinity Rooms, where mirrors create the illusion of infinite space. Besides these well-known mediums, Kusama was also a pioneer in feminist performance art and abstract sculptures.

Yayoi Kusama was born in Matsumoto, Japan, to a family of seed farmers who were not supportive of her passion for art. After art school, she decided to leave Japan, frustrated at how hard it was for women to be independent. She came to New York City in the late 1950s, where she fell in with the early Pop Art movement. NYC was where she first began to develop her large-scale installations, as she had the freedom to experiment and a community of artists to brainstorm alongside.

However, Kusama was distressed that her family would not accept her as an artist and that they were embarrassed by her work. She was also dealing with the wholesale rip-off of her artwork by many famous, white, male artists in NYC. Her mental health was collapsing, and after several suicide attempts, she returned to Japan. Kusama has lived in a mental health facility in Japan since the late 1970s and is very open about the effect that her mental health has had on her art.

Buy The Not Just Dead White Guys Coloring Book featuring Yayoi Kusama!

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama | Art by Kat Sampson

Yayoi Kusama

B. 1929

“With just one polka dot, nothing can be achieved.”

For Kusama, art-making is a way of managing her mental illness and centering herself. She is still very productive in her ninth decade of life and has finally broken through to receive the recognition she deserves in her home country. In 2019, the Yayoi Kusama Museum opened in Tokyo. Today, she is acknowledged as the most famous living Japanese artist. 

Buy The Not Just Dead White Guys Coloring Book featuring Yayoi Kusama!

artist

In collaboration with Kat Sampson, we present The Not Just Dead White Guys coloring book with 24 vibrant portraits, showcasing diverse artists, both deceased and living. Half are contemporary artists, including Yayoi Kusama who are shaping the art scene today, while the others are important historical figures. Join us to celebrate their diverse contributions and create a more inclusive art world!

 

 

Written by:
Wendy Bonham-Carter
Feb 10, 2024