Yayoi Kusama with recent works in Tokyo, 2016. Courtesy of the artist © Yayoi Kusama, Photo by Tomoaki Makino
Guided by her unique vision and unparalleled creativity, critically acclaimed artist Yayoi Kusama has been breaking new ground for more than six decades. In 1993, she became the first woman to have a solo presentation at the Venice Biennale’s Japanese Pavilion, and in 2016, Time magazine named her one of the world’s most influential people.
Born in 1929, Kusama grew up near her family’s plant nursery in Matsumoto, Japan. At nineteen, following World War II, she went to Kyoto to study the traditional Japanese style of painting known as Nihonga. During this time, she began experimenting with abstraction, but it was not until she arrived in the United States, in 1957, that her career took off. Living in New York from 1958 to 1973, Kusama moved in avant-garde circles with such figures as Andy Warhol and Allan Kaprow while honing her signature dot and net motifs, developing soft sculpture, creating installation-based works, and staging Happenings (performance-based events). She first used the mirror as a multi-reflective device in Infinity Mirror Room—Phalli’s Field, 1965, transforming the intense repetition that marked some of her earlier works into an immersive experience. Kusama returned to Japan in 1973 but has continued to develop her mirrored installations, and over the years, she has attained cult status, not only as an artist, but as a novelist.