Yayoi Kusama is a renowned Contemporary artist, best known for her celebrated and stunning complex Infinity Net paintings. Born in Japan in 1929, Yayoi Kusama first traveled to New York in 1957 during the avant-garde movement, and was deeply influenced by Abstract Expressionism. While in New York, Kusama gained fame through several groundbreaking exhibitions and participation in art “happenings” and the Pop art movement. She then moved back to Japan in 1973 and has become one of the most important living artists from Japan producing remarkable artworks in a variety of media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, film, performance and installations. Themes of psychedelic colors, pattern and repetition are seen throughout her oeuvre.
When Kusama was in her adolescent years, she began to have vivid hallucinations in which her entire visual field was covered in flashes of light and dense fields of dots. She began to render the patterns that engulfed her during these hallucinations onto canvases, producing her iconic infinity nets. The works are characterized by a gestural net form made up of intricate surfaces of small painted arches covering the ground of the canvas, like the details lattice or lace. The nets stretch across the surface of the painting and extend beyond the picture plane into infinity. Kusama’s first net paintings were produced in the 1950s and 1960s, inspired by her own recurring hallucinatory visions, explaining that: “My nets grew beyond myself and beyond the canvases I was covering with them…They began to cover the walls, the ceiling, and finally the whole universe. I was always standing at the center of the obsession, over the passionate accretion and repetition inside of me” (in Udo Kultermann, Yayoi Kusama, New York 2000, p. 103). The net composition produces biomorphic shapes that come in and out of focus, suggesting cosmos, cells or atoms, enveloping the viewer, just as they envelope Kusama.
Yayoi Kusama has had major international retrospectives, including at The Museum of Modern Art in 1998, the Whitney Museum and the Tate Modern in 2012, and most recently at the Hirshhorn Museum in 2017. Her work resides in private and museum collections worldwide and is highly sought after.