Yayoi Kusama - The Story Behind Her Work

Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese environmental artist and writer who was born in 1929. She is well known for her repeating dot patterns, but her art encompasses a variety of media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, film, performance and immersive installation. Her work took the world by storm, but it is mostly famously recognized now. 



As many of you may or may not know, Yayoi Kusama just recently finished up her North American tour back in January; her final stop was at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. If you were like me, you didn’t wake up at 4am to stand in line for tickets because the online queue was thousands of people; so, you didn’t go. I really wanted to go, and I didn’t, but because of a recent essay for class, I have been able to enjoy learning about the works I never got to see.


Yayoi Kusama - Bio

When Kusama was a child, her hallucinations began; hallucinations of flowers, nets, and dots threatening to engulf her, was the origin of her art. The illness was her muse, her inspiration, and the reason for her strange decision when she returned to Tokyo in 1973 to reside in a psychiatric hospital. Much of her work has been marked with obsessiveness and a desire to escape from psychological trauma. In an attempt to share her experiences, she creates installations that immerse the viewer in her obsessive vision of endless dots and nets or infinitely mirrored space. This is experience is why she considers herself an environmental artist. It must be said that many critics have expressed doubt that she is mentally ill. Infinite repetition is at the heart of Kusama’s enterprise and it characterizes all of her work. The Japanese artist also used repetitive nets of polka dots.


Works on Tour

The works Kusama had on tour were absolutely brilliant. There were some installations that didn’t go that I really wish she had. These are the works that were there:


The Mirror Rooms – 6 rooms full of mirrors, whatever work was in there you were surrounded with. You would also see yourself repeated and the rooms seemed infinite.












The Polka Dot Balls ­– Giant inflated polka dot balls hanging from the ceiling.













The Obliteration Room – A white room filled with white furniture. Visitors coming through the room, “obliterated’ it, by placing colored dots wherever they pleased.













The Pumpkins – A mirrored room, full of giant polka dotted pumpkins.