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Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama

Polka Dots, a way to infinity

Yayoi Kusama (Nagano, 1929) Japanese artist and writer, forerunner of the pop art, minimalism and feminist art movements. Throughout her career, she has worked with a wide variety of media including: painting, collage, sculpture, performance, and installations with autobiographical, psychological and sexual content.

Yayoi Kusama


She was born in a conservative family of seed merchants. Since she was a child, she  experienced hallucinations and obsessive thoughts with suicidal tendencies. As a way to cope with this, Kusama began creating art from a very young age.

In 1948 she studied Nihonga (Japanese-style painting) at the Kyoto Municipal School and although she graduated the following year, she was frustrated by the rigidity of the educational system.

Her first successes were during the 1950s in Japan, where she held various exhibitions of her paintings. She defined his style covering all surfaces with polka dots, creating patterns and her famous “Infinity Nets”, drawn directly from her hallucinations.

Kusama’s New York period began in 1957 where she produced paintings, sculptures and installations influenced by Abstract Expressionism.

At the beginning of the 60s, the artist was already associated with the Pop Art movement along with big names like Andy Warhol. Her performances in which she painted polka dots on naked bodies strongly attracted the public attention.

Polka Dots in Naked Bodys Yayoi Kusama


In the 1970s, Kusama returned to Japan to find a more conservative art movement and try to continue her career and being a merchant. In 1977, she entered the psychiatric hospital where she has been living and she continues producing art works in different media as well as novels, poetry and an autobiography.

After her time in New York, the artist fell into oblivion until various mundial retrospectives revived the international interest in the 80s and 90s. Today  she is a world-renowned figure.

Some of her most famous works include:

  • In 1966, Kusama participated for the first time at the Venice Biennale. Narcissus Garden was one of his most notorious works due to the promotion of the artist in different media and it was an opportunity to make a criticism of the mechanization and commercialization of the art market. 900 spheres floating on the water in front of the Italian Pavilion.

Narcissus Garden Yayoi Kusama


  • Again at the Venice Biennale in 1993, a room full of small pumpkins and herself, were the idea for the production of a large sculpture of a yellow pumpkin covered with black polka dots representing her self-portrait.

Yayoi Kusama Polka Dot Pumpkin


  • “I’m here but nothing" installation is a simply furnished room in which hundreds of fluorescent dots glow in the ultraviolet light.

Im here but nothing


  • “Guidepost to the New Space” is a series of vibrant red rounded bumps with white polka dots that were exposed in places like the Hudson River Park, Louisiana or in an airbnb room!

Guidepost to the new space


Auctions and Museums

Her work has always had a very strong presence at auctions. Paintings from the late 1950s and early 1960s reach record numbers for a living female artist. In 2008, she sold 1959 “Infinity Nets” in white for $5.1 million.

Kusama's work can be found in the collections of the most important museums in the world, including the MOMA in New York, the Tate Modern in London, the Reina Sofia in Madrid or the Pompidou Center in Paris.


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