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  • She was named by "Time" magazine in 2016 as one of the most influential people in the world.

  • Her artworks often go for record-breaking, multi-million-dollar prices at auction, and her exhibitions have drawn unprecedentedly large crowds, resulting in insanely long lines and internet-breaking ticket sales.

  •  Her name is Yayoi Kusama, and you may be wondering, "What's the big deal with her?"

  • Kusama is probably best known for her sculptural works and immersive installations, but is also a prolific painter, performance artist, fashion designer, experimental filmmaker, poet, and novelist.

  • Her enormous body of work has had profound influences in not only the contemporary art world, but also on a deeper level of social, political, and philosophical thinking.

  • One consistent motif in Kusama's works is the continuous explorations of polka dots from organic biomorphic forms, to large-scale woven patterns, to endless shimmering lights, to brightly-colored dots on sculptures, installations, and human bodies.

  • Another related idea of hers is the consistent examination of infinity, and the polka dot motif actually represents this on both micro and macro levels.

  • Infinities can be inconceivably large or inconceivably small.

  • So, while Kusama's Infinity Rooms can evoke ideas of the grand, infinite universe, her dotted paintings and replicating patterns also allude to microscopic cells and exploding atomic particles.

  • Kusama was born in 1929 in Matsumoto, Japan; although she studied traditional Japanese painting during her early years in art school, she was more interested in the avant-garde.

  • Although her style did not appeal to the mainstream Japanese community at the time, her obsessive psychological expressions caught the interest of some prominent Japanese scholars and art critics.

  • By 1954, she had exhibited in various solo shows around the country as well as caught the attention of some western collectors.

  • In 1955, she also blindly wrote to American artists Kenneth Callahan and Georgia O'Keefe to seek advice.

  • Both actually responded to her, enthusiastically supporting her work and encouraging her to move to the US.

  • She would eventually end up in New York in 1958.

  • Late 1950s America was a time when many artists were reacting against the movement of abstract expressionism.

  • Many became less interested in gestural brushstrokes and more interested in flat, repetitive compositions that are self referential and internally contemplative.

  • This resulted in enormous interest in Kusama's signature Infinity Nets series.

  • However, although her works appealed to minimalists, Kusama didn't necessarily conform to their philosophies.

  • Nevertheless, her works during this period significantly influenced many modernists' transition from abstract expressionism to minimalism.

  • In the early 1960s, against the backdrop of a psychedelic, politically-charged era of civil rights movements and sexual liberation, Kusama began a series of soft phallic sculptures that she attached all over walls, floors, furniture, and everyday objects.

  • Known as the Accumulations series, she once again employed her signature technique of methodical repetition.

  • Accumulations have also been compared to similar soft sculptures produced by American artist Claes Oldenburg.

  • And Kusama's practice of repetition would influence pop artists like Andy Warhol, who was deeply interested in the ideas of multiplicity and commercial proliferation.

  • But once again, although her works shared similar ideas with pop artists, Kusama's interest was not exactly in line with their ideologies.

  • Rather than focusing on pop cultural imagery and mass consumption, she was more interested in creating immersive experiences that blurred the boundaries between architecture and art.

  • By 1965, Kusama had incorporated a more efficient way of visually expressing exponential repetition by using mirrors.

  • This resulted in her first Infinity Room, "Phalli' s Field", a mirrored room that not only simulated the experience of infinity, but also made the artwork into a participatory experience for the viewer.

  • How you are reflected within the mirrors, the way you occupy the space and position your body inevitably makes you a part of the artwork.

  • Kusama continued to produce sexually charged works throughout the 1960s, such as staging numerous controversial public performances.

  • Like many contemporary artists, Kusama was aware of the limitations of traditional institutions, and she was interested in reaching audiences beyond the art galleries.

  • These performances blurred the lines between high and low art, and was a significant step in democratizing the access of art for the masses.

  • At the 1966 Venice Biennale, although Kusama was not an official exhibitor, she was invited by Italian artist Lucio Fontana to exhibit on the lawn outside the Italian Pavillon.

  • Her work was titled "Narcissus Garden" and composed of 1,500 mirrored balls.

  • During the Biennale, Kusama placed a sign in front of it saying "Your Narcissism for Sale" and sold each mirrored ball to passing visitors for 2 dollars each.

  • The Biennale officials quickly caught onto this and removed her from doing so.

  • But through this act, Kusama drew attention to the often uncomfortable realities of commercialization and commodification of art.

  • In the age social media, the exploration of narcissism is also evermore relevant.

  • On the distorted mirrored ball is the viewer's own reflection, which is often snapped by gallery visitors and uploaded to places like Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat.

  • In later years, Kusama would continue to bring her art out into the world as well as bring visitors into immersive environments by inviting them to become a part of the artwork.

  • The "Obliteration Room" has been a traveling installation since 2002, where it starts off as a completely white room filled with white domestic furniture.

  • Visitors are given a pad of colourful circular stickers to place anywhere in the room.

  • As the exhibition goes on, the room is transformed into another explosion of brightly-colored polka dots.

  • In the early 2000s, Kusama made a departure from her earlier vivid and sculptural infinity rooms, and began creating dimly-lit rooms activated by lights and mirrors.

  • These environments often evoke visitors to contemplate the experience on an existential, cosmological level.

  • Many feel that these boundless galactic spaces give them an out-of-body experience, as if your consciousness has been transported to a galaxy millions of light years away.

  • I find it fascinating that, although Kusama has faced many hardship and challenges throughout her life, contrarily, her art seems to bring an incredibly positive, vibrant, and animated life force.

  • She has also maintained a consistent ideological motif throughout her entire career, yet her visual language is always transforming and adapting to new ideas.

  • She's been a key influencer of many significant art movements, yet she has always had a uniquely distinctive style that defies categorization.

  • And in this post-Internet age where the distinction of virtual and physical life is increasingly blurred, I'd argue that her ideas are more relevant today than they've ever been.

  • With the ceaseless snapshots of Infinity Rooms shared across social platforms, each viewer is adding to the never-ending performance of Kusama's works while also continuing her pursuit of democratizing the experience of art beyond the art gallery.

  • If you are watching this video in 2018 and you live in or around Toronto, Cleveland, or Atlanta, or you can get yourself to one of these places, then you have a chance to see a spectacular survey exhibition called "Infinity Mirrors".

  • I'll put the links in the description below on where where you can find out more information about those shows.

  • But be warned! Tickets sell out very fast and be prepared to wait in some very long lines.

  • But I think it's worth it!

  • Good luck and send me your #InfiniteKusama pictures.

She was named by "Time" magazine in 2016 as one of the most influential people in the world.


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Why Yayoi Kusama Matters Now More Than Ever #InfiniteKusama | ARTiculations

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    Elise Chuang 發佈於 2021 年 11 月 03 日