“Polka dots are fabulous.”
Considered to be one of the most important living artists to come from Japan, we’ve chosen Yayoi Kusama as a trailblazer of high fashion and inspirational figure not only in painting, but also in film, poetry, sculpture and performance. She’s sometimes called the “princess of polka dots” as she is especially well known for her use of thousands of dots in her artwork.
Her parents didn’t encourage Kusama in her artistic endeavours, but she was determined to become a success in the art world. Her drive paid off, and in 2014, Kusama was ranked the most popular artist of the year after a record-breaking number of visitors flooded her Latin American tour, Yayoi Kusama: Infinite Obsession.
Kusama currently has an installation: Kusama: Cosmic Nature running at the New York Botanical Garden (until 31 October 2021).
Did you know…
As a young teen, Kusama was sent to work in a military factory where she was tasked with sewing and fabricating parachutes for the Japanese Army, who were embroiled in WWll. She says her childhood was greatly influenced by the events of the war, and reveals it was during this period that she began to value notions of personal and creative freedom.
The first time Kusama used polka dots in her art seems to be when she was just 10 years old, and she drew a woman in a kimono (thought to be her mother) obliterated by polka dots.
At the age of 27, she left Japan and moved to the USA, first to Seattle, then to New York. Before she went, she destroyed many of her early pieces of art.
In 1968, Kusama started her own fashion brand, Kusama Fashion Company Ltd, and sold avant garde fashion items at “Kusama Corner” in the famous Bloomingdales department store in New York. Much later, in 2009, she designed a pink dotted phone in a dog-shaped holder, called Handbag for Space Travel, My Doggie Ring-Ring.
As well as using polka dots in her art, Kusama has become known for her “infinite” installations, such as Infinity Mirrored Room – Filled with the Brilliance of Life, which features “neverending” crystal chandeliers.
Yayoi Kusama’s artwork is now installed permanently in galleries across the world, in countries including the USA, Australia, India, Canada, Denmark, and the Netherlands.
The Yayoi Kusama Museum opened in 2017in Japan and is dedicated to Kusama’s work. In 2018 it was rated number one on Time Out magazine’s global ‘to do’ list.
“I love painting so much that nothing else matters.” Yayoi Kusama
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