Yayoi Kusama

  • Born 1929 in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, Japan
Yayoi Kusama, known for her happenings and the use of dotted patterns, is one of the foremost contemporary artists of Japan. She first studied traditional nihonga painting in Japan, where she had her first solo show in 1952. After immigrating to the United States in 1957, she worked as an avant-garde painter and sculptor. Her large-scale “Net” painting series presented a system of small, thickly painted loops covering the entire surface in rhythmic undulations. Her “Accumulation” sculptures of that time are monochrome everyday objects (e.g., furniture, boats) covered with soft, phallic forms of different sizes. Yayoi Kusama covered the surfaces of her paintings, sculptures, and even entire rooms with sprawling, brightly colored patterns (her signature feature being the dot pattern) and often positioned herself in the center of them, wearing similarly patterned clothes to blend in with the art. From the late 1960s onward she staged a variety of provocative happenings (body-painting events, antiwar demonstrations) and further expanded her repertoire to include film and fashion design. After Yayoi Kusama returned to Japan in 1973, she began to write novels and poems. Late in the 1980s her work gained international recognition. In 1993 she represented Japan at the Venice Biennale.