Yayoi Kusama has been obsessively and nearly incessantly creating artwork since the 1950s. The Japanese artist exhibited her first signature “Infinity Net” painting–a large canvas covered with a hypnotic array of little dots–in New York City in 1959. Since then she’s shown her work the world over. Kusama’s long career has overlapped the surrealist, expressionist, and pop-art movements, to name just a few, and though she has drawn inspiration from some of these sources, she has remained steadfastly focused on her own artistic vision. Her collections of wriggling, overstuffed spongy tubes overtaking floors, pieces of furniture, and rowboats; the polka dots covering her Infinity Net paintings, mirrored rooms, mannequins, and even her own skin; the mottled, gourdlike sculptures she installs in mirrored rooms–all of these visual motifs recur consistently in her work and evoke both Western and Eastern aesthetic influences.
Yayoi Kusama is one of Phaidon’s contemporary artists series, which includes, among others, books on Thomas Schütte, Jeff Wall, and Jessica Stockholder. Yayoi Kusama features an interview with Kusama in which she discusses her lifelong mental illness and her love affair with Donald Judd, along with the anti-establishment art “happenings” she staged in Manhattan in the 1960s and the major themes in her work. A pictorial survey, a collection of her own writing, and a Takuboku Ishikawa poem she selected to accompany her work round out the volume. This is a highly recommended book for readers already familiar with Kusama’s oeuvre and those interested in learning more about this important artist. –Jordana Moskowitz
This is a monograph on the extraordinary 40 year career of Japanese sculptor and performance artist Yayoi Kusama, recently the subject of a major retrospective at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, which toured the United States and Japan through 1999. In January-March 2000 the Serpentine Gallery, London will be presenting a large solo exhibition devoted to Kusama’s work. Internationally noted for her soft sculptures an psychedelic installations, Kusama explores themes of love, infinity and obsession throughout her work, from her net-like pattern paintings begun in 1959, to her Pop-inspired love happenings in the 1960s, to installations in which every surface has been compulsively covered in polka-dots, mirrors or stuffed phallus-like protrusions. A visionary whose work is unique in the panorama of post-war art, Yayoi Kusama is known not only as an artist but also as a fashion-designer, poet and novelist – all documented in this comprehensive monograph.
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