Thursday, July 19, 2012

Japanese Artist Yoyoi Kusama

Infinity Mirror Room, New York, 1965

Yoyoi Kusama's work has been in the international news lately.  She just had a major exhibition at the Tate Modern Gallery this past spring, and last night, Louis Vuitton unveiled windows for its store on 5th Avenue in New York that she collaborated with.   She is best known for her massive Infinity Net paintings, her sculptures, her performance art, and her installations.  If those are not enough, she is also a novelist, a poet, and fashion designer.

Window of Louis Vuitton's 5th Avenue Store

As Ali Smith worte in the Tate Etc. "For Kusamai, art is a fetile bleed, something which spreads on to the walls, the floor, out into the room, all over the self.  Mindscape and landscape are the same in her work, a reminder that we are all where we live, that we make what surrounds us as much as it makes us."

Passing Winter, 2005

This is what the Tate Gallery says about her work: The nine decades of Yayoi Kusama’s life have taken her from rural Japan to the New York art scene to contemporary Tokyo, in a career in which she has continuously innovated and re-invented her style. Well-known for her repeating dot patterns, her art encompasses an astonishing variety of media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, film, performance and immersive installation. It ranges from works on paper featuring intense semi-abstract imagery, to soft sculpture known as ‘Accumulations’, to her ‘Infinity Net’ paintings, made up of carefully repeated arcs of paint built up into large patterns. Since 1977 Kusama has lived voluntarily in a psychiatric institution, and much of her work has been marked with obsessiveness and a desire to escape from psychological trauma. In an attempt to share her experiences, she creates installations that immerse the viewer in her obsessive vision of endless dots and nets or infinitely mirrored space.

Performance Art of the 1960's
THE POLKA-DOT DIVA: A ONE-ACT PLAY (written by Monty DiPietra during the time the Moma retrospective in 1999). 

location: The Museum of Modern Art, New York City.
time: late 1960s, late summer, mid-afternoon.
(enter Japanese Artist, stage left, followed by Assistants. They move to the museum’s sculpture garden. Assistants disrobe. Guests, upstage, take notice and seem shocked. Japanese Artist produces a brush and paints colorful polka dots onto the naked Assistants, who pose as statues. New York Daily News Photographer appears and takes the picture that will appear on his newspaper’s front page the following day. Enter Museum Security Guards, stage right. They escort Japanese Artist and Assistants downstage, where Policemen have appeared...)

Policeman 1: (serious tone) You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law...
Japanese Artist: At the museum you can take off your clothes in good company; Renoir, Maillol, Giacometti, Picasso...The nude has become socially acceptable among the more permanent residents of the garden of the museum. Phalli are also a la mode, particularly the harder varieties in granite, basalt and bronze. (Policemen lead her away)
Guests: (emphatically) Bravo! Bravo!

Photo in the New York Daily News, 

See the interactive Tate site with a video of Kusama here:

More on DiPietro's review of Kusama's performance art here:

See 10 things to know about Kusama from the blog Worn Fashion Journal here:

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