Yayoi Kusama Japanese, b. 1929


Yayoi Kusama is one of the most well-known contemporary Japanese artists around the world today. Born in Matsumoto, Nagano, Japan, on March 22nd, 1929, she mainly works in sculpture and installation. Based mostly in conceptual art, Kusama explores themes of feminism, pop art, abstract expressionism, minimalism, Art Brut, and surrealism.


Kusama’s art spans many mediums, including painting, performance, film, fashion, poetry, fiction. Much of her work delves into her world view, exploring psychological and sexual subjects as well as her mental illness.


Yayoi Kusama describes seeing vivid hallucinations of light flashes, auras or fields of dots as early as ten years old. She also describes seeing flowers that would speak to her, patterns in fabrics that she stared at would come to life, multiply and engulf her. This process of engulfing she calls “self-obliteration,” and would become an important influence on her art throughout her life. Kusama cites smooth white stones that covered the riverbed near her family home as a cause for her fascination with polka dots which became an integral part of her artwork.