Yayoi Kusama has been interested in the Pop Art movement since the 1960’s, having moved to the United States in 1958 from Japan. Although she was sometimes violently discouraged from pursuing art by her abusive mother, she ended up seeking out the arts as a method to cope with her insecurities and developing obsessive compulsive disease. By embracing the bright colors and psychedelic forms of Pop Art, Kusama channelled the phantasmagorical hallucinations she had beginning in childhood into something therapeutic, not only for herself but for her audiences too.
In her early career she painted, sculpted and worked on performance art such as “Happenings.” As a feminist, she has brought political aspects to her work, and a type of playful edgy sensuality.
She is particularly known for her polka-dot artworks, performances and installations. Environments that she sometimes places herself in the middle of, like a camouflaged entity in her natural environment. By finding ways to blend in with her created world, she sought self obliteration as a way to unite with the infinite universe.
When I arrived in New York, action painting was the rage, de Kooning, Pollock and others. I wanted to be completely detached from that and start a new art movement. I painted obsessional, monochromatic paintings from morning till night. They were huge paintings that had no composition like a 33-foot white infinity net painting. -Kusama
…a polka-dot has the form of the sun, which is a symbol of the energy of the whole world and our living life, and also the form of the moon, which is calm. Round, soft, colorful, senseless and unknowing. Polka-dots become movement… Polka dots are a way to infinity. -Yayoi Kusama
More recently, she has made use of LED technology to build immersive art, where guests can enter and experience something like an infinite reflection of stars in space as seen in her work entitled, “Mirrored Room.” She attempts to give her viewers a glimpse of eternity and actually become it through immersion.
In 1977, Kusama checked herself into a psychiatric institute in Japan where she continues to live, working in a studio across the street. Despite being diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Kusama as remained a prolific artist who continues to create awe inspiring work and push the boundaries of what art is and what it does.
Major retrospectives on her work have be held at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, and Tate Modern and in 2008 and she sold a work for $5.1 million, a record for a living female artist at the time. Also she has written several books and been a long time avant-garde influence in the fashion world. She says she will paint until she dies, always pushing to create more art for the healing of mankind.