Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama

Japanese artist and writer.
Date of Birth: 22.03.1929
Country: Japan

Biography of Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese artist and writer, known for her eccentric and surrealistic works that have gained her international fame. Born in Matsuto, Nagano Prefecture, Kusama grew up in a wealthy and conservative family that made their fortune in wholesale seed trading. She had a difficult childhood, suffering from serious mental health issues including hallucinations and suicidal tendencies. Kusama also faced physical abuse from her mother, which further complicated her upbringing.

Yayoi Kusama

In 1948, Kusama left home to attend the senior class of the Municipal School of Arts and Sciences in Kyoto, where she studied Nihonga, a traditional and formal style of Japanese painting. However, Kusama found the rigidity of the educational system and the emphasis on traditional teachings to be stifling. She largely taught herself and actively worked on creating new abstract artworks using watercolor, gouache, and oil paints. One of her signature techniques was the use of polka dots, which she first saw in her childhood hallucinations. She would cover various surfaces, including walls, floors, canvases, furniture, and even the bodies of nude assistants, with polka dots.

Yayoi Kusama

In her first major series of works titled "Infinity Nets," Kusama presented large canvases, some as big as 10 meters, completely covered in dots and nets. These paintings reflected her hallucinations and were incredibly intricate and detailed. Kusama was known for her impressive productivity and would often photograph herself with her new creations.

Yayoi Kusama

In 1963, Kusama began working on her series of "Mirror/Infinity" rooms. These complex installations featured mirrored glass and numerous colored balls placed at different heights to create an illusion of infinite space. The reflected light created a mesmerizing effect, immersing the viewer in an endless universe.

After spending some time in Tokyo and France, Kusama moved to the United States at the age of 27. In 1957, she settled in Seattle, where she organized an exhibition of her works at the Zoe Dusanne gallery. Subsequently, she moved to New York City, where she established herself as a leader in the avant-garde art movement. She corresponded with renowned artist Georgia O'Keeffe, seeking advice and guidance on joining the city's artistic elite.

Kusama's move to the United States significantly boosted her popularity and reputation. In 1961, she relocated her studio to the same building as artists Donald Judd and Eva Hesse, with whom she developed close friendships. Kusama continued to explore new styles and formats, experimenting with complex mirror installations and incorporating light and music into her artwork.

Despite her artistic success, Kusama faced financial challenges and struggled with her mental and physical health. In 1973, she returned to Japan and focused more on writing, producing novels, short stories, and poems that showcased her surrealistic and vivid descriptions. Kusama underwent psychiatric treatment and eventually chose to reside in a mental hospital, where she continued to create art in a nearby studio. Her love for art kept her from succumbing to her suicidal tendencies.

Kusama's move back to Japan temporarily diminished her popularity, but in the 1980s and 1990s, a series of retrospective projects brought her fame back. Even at the age of 90, Kusama remained active, constantly presenting the world with new and unconventional works of art. She continued to experiment with the concept of infinity, working with light, mirrors, and various mediums. A recurring theme in her work is the strange juxtaposition of life and death.

© BIOGRAPHS