About us
Artists Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama Photo

Yayoi Kusama

Japanese-American Painter, Sculptor, Photographer, Installation, Performance, and Conceptual Artist

Movements and Styles: Conceptual Art, Pop Art, Minimalism, Feminist Art, Performance Art

Born: 1929

Yayoi Kusama Timeline

Quotes

"I am just another dot in the world."
Yayoi Kusama
"My art originates from hallucinations only I can see. I translate the hallucinations and obsessional images that plague me into sculptures and paintings. All my works in pastels are the products of obsessional neurosis and are therefore inextricably connected to my disease."
Yayoi Kusama
"I fight pain, anxiety, and fear every day, and the only method I have found that relieves my illness is to keep creating art. I followed the thread of art and somehow discovered a path that would allow me to live."
Yayoi Kusama
"I wanted to start a revolution, using art to build the sort of society I myself envisioned."
Yayoi Kusama
"I don't consider myself an artist; I am pursuing art in order to correct the disability which began in my childhood."
Yayoi Kusama
"I did not have any purpose. I felt that art and life were useless. I painted boredom, which is more important in life than the effect of sunlight, which [is what] the Impressionists painted."
Yayoi Kusama
"I want to become more famous, even more famous."
Yayoi Kusama
"One day, I suddenly looked up to find that each and every violet had its own individual, human-like facial expression, and to my astonishment they were all talking to me. Suddenly things would be flashing and glittering all around me. So many different images leaped into my eyes that I was left dazzled and dumbfounded."
Yayoi Kusama
"If it were not for art, I would have killed myself a long time ago."
Yayoi Kusama

"My artwork is an expression of my life, particularly of my mental disease."

Yayoi Kusama Signature

Synopsis

Yayoi Kusama's life is a poignant testament to the healing power of art as well as a study in human resilience. Plagued by mental illness as a child, and thoroughly abused by a callous mother, the young artist persevered by using her hallucinations and personal obsessions as fodder for prolific artistic output in various disciplines. This has informed a lifelong commitment to creativity at all costs despite the artist's birth into a traditional, female-effacing Japanese culture and her career's coming of age in the male dominated New York art scene. Today, Kusama reigns as one of the most unique and famous contemporary female artists, operating from her self-imposed home in a mental hospital.

Key Ideas

When Kusama began to see hallucinations as a child, her way of coping with the bizarre phenomena was to paint what she saw. She says that art became her way to express her mental disease. This most notably is seen in her Infinity Net paintings based on repetitive patterns and her installations in which she creates elaborate environments overrun with polka dots or tiny points of light.
In much the same fashion as Kusama uses art to process hallucinations, she also uses her work to confront personal phobias, especially a fear of sex stemming from a witnessing of her father's womanizing. This reveals itself through her "compulsion" soft sculptures and furniture pieces covered in myriad phallic forms.
Her familiarity with fighting for her life, and her compassion for others involved in causes against injustice, led Kusama to briefly associate with many subcultural movements of her time such as the hippie culture of the 1960s and the feminist movement.
For Kusama, artmaking became an essential survival mechanism. It was her sole tool for making sense of a world in which she dwelt on the periphery of normative experience, and as a result became the very thing that allowed her to assimilate successfully into society.

Biography

Yayoi Kusama Photo

Childhood/Education

Born in 1929 in Matsumoto, Japan, Kusama grew up as the youngest of four children in an affluent family. However, her childhood was less than idyllic. Her parents were the product of a loveless, arranged marriage. Her absent father, emasculated by the fact that he had to take his wife's surname as a condition of marrying into the wealthy family, spent most of his time away from home womanizing, leaving his angry wife to physically abuse and emotionally torment her youngest child. She would often send her daughter to spy on her father's sexual exploits, the mental trauma of which caused Kusama to have a permanent aversion to sex and the male body.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Yayoi Kusama Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Yayoi Kusama
Interactive chart with Yayoi Kusama's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Georgia O'KeeffeGeorgia O'Keeffe
Joseph CornellJoseph Cornell
Vasily KamenskyVasily Kamensky

Personal Contacts

Donald JuddDonald Judd
Eva HesseEva Hesse

Movements

SurrealismSurrealism
Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism

Influences on Artist
Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama
Years Worked: 1950s - present
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Yoko OnoYoko Ono
Claes OldenburgClaes Oldenburg
George SegalGeorge Segal
Damien HirstDamien Hirst

Personal Contacts

Andy WarholAndy Warhol
Carolee SchneemannCarolee Schneemann

Movements

Conceptual ArtConceptual Art
Pop ArtPop Art
MinimalismMinimalism
Performance ArtPerformance Art
Feminist ArtFeminist Art

If you see an error or typo, please:
tell us
Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Katelyn Davis

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Katelyn Davis
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
Available from:
[Accessed ]