1. Painting was her kind of rebellion when she was child
Born in 1929 in Matsumoto into an affluent, very conservative family. Her mother forbade her to paint and suppressed her creative talents. If she caught her with her ink and canvas, she punished her physically and mentally.
2. Two minds about sex
Kusama was growing up with a violent mother and a cheating father. She says that her mother often send her to spy on her father, while he was seeing his mistresses. These experiences stick to her mind and caused a lifelong disregard for sex. Later in 1960’s, she wrote an open letter to Richard Nixon offering to have vigorous sex with him, if he would stop the Vietnam War.
“The sexual obsession and fear of sex sit side by side in me”, she once said.
3. Louis Vuitton is not the fashion brand she worked with
In 1968 she began to design avantgardistic clothes for her own label, Kusama Fashion Company Ltd. The creations were available in the so-called “Kusama Corner” in Bloomingdale’s. In 2011 she designed a limited-edition of six lip-glosses for the French cosmetics manufacturer Lancôme. In the same year, she started to work with Marc Jacobs on a special collection for Louis Vuitton. Released in 2012 the collection included ready-to-wear, shoes and all kind of accessories. The products were sold at a SoHo pop-up shop, which was decorated with several of her trademark art pieces (polka dots, tentacle-like protrusions).
4. She was part of Andy Warhol’s clique
“America is really the country that raised me”, says the 88-years-old artist. In 1957, at the age of 27, she left Japan and decided to seek freedom in New York, where she met and became friends with – none other than – Andy Warhol. But their friendship cooled off when she later accused him of stealing her ideas as Warhol created a wallpaper with repeats of a cow extremely similar to her 1963 work: One Thousand Boats Show – a boat covered in phalluses and with wallpaper of said boat covering the room.
Nevertheless, both of them had a huge impact on pop art and shared similar attitudes towards the meaning of art. When Kusama was asked in 2012 why she used pumpkins in her work, her answer was a very Warholian one: “Pumpkins are visually humorous.”
5. She created a handbag for space travel
In collaboration with the Japanese mobile communication giant KDDI Cooperation and the IIDA, she designed a handbag-shaped cell phone entitled Handbag for Space Travel and a pink dotted cell phone called My Doggie Ring-Ring with a matching dog-shaped holder and a red and white dotted phone inside a mirrored, dotted box dubbed Dots Obsession, Full Happiness With Dots – the phones were limited to 1000 pieces each.
6. She calls a psychiatric clinic her home for more than 30 years
The artist voluntarily lives in a psychiatric asylum in Tokyo since 1977. When she was ten years old, she began to experience vivid hallucinations. She described them as “flashed of light, auras or dense fields of dots.” Also the “Infinity Net” series originates from her childhood experience. She senses her art as “self-obliteration” when she translated her fantasies, fears and dreams into her artistic career.
7. In Tokyo, a museum was dedicated to Yayoi this year
The five-storey building dedicated to the legend is located in Tokyo and applies a splash of color to itneighbourhoodod. Due to the huge interest before the opening, the museum owner decided to restrict the number of visitors, with just 50 people to be admitted four times a day for 90 minutes. The exhibition provides a representative overview of her artwork spanning more than six decades and comprises thousands of artworks and countless polka dots.
Images via pinterest