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Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929, Matsumoto, Japan)
Japanese artist known for her extensive use of polka dots and for her infinity installations. She works in various mediums including painting, sculpture, performance art, and installations in a variety of styles, including Pop art and Minimalism.
Kusama begins to paint as a child, at about the time she experiences hallucinations also of fields of dots. The hallucinations and the theme of dots would continue to appear in her art throughout her life.
She moves to the United States in 1957, where she begins to create what she refers to as “infinity net” paintings, which consist of thousands of tiny marks obsessively repeated across large canvases without considering the borders, as if they continue into infinity. These works explore the physical and psychological boundaries of painting, where the endless repetition of the marks create an almost hypnotic effect for both the viewer and the artist. Her paintings from that period anticipate the emerging Minimalist movement, but her work soon shifts to Pop art and performance art. She becomes a central figure in the New York avant-garde, and she exhibits alongside artists as Donald Judd, Claes Oldenburg, and Andy Warhol.
In the late 1960s, she begins to stage body painting festivals, fashion shows and anti-war demonstrations.
She returns to Japan in 1973, where she continues to create her art as well as begins to write novels and realize open air sculpture pieces. From1998 to 1999, a major retrospective of Kusama’s works opens at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and travels to the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Walker Art Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo.
Kusama is recipient of numerous prizes and awards including the Asahi Prize in 2001, the Medal with Dark Navy Blue Ribbon in 2002, the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Officier), and the Nagano Governor Prize (for the contribution in encouragement of art and culture) in 2003, National Lifetime Achievement Awards in 2006, the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Losette and The Praemium Imperiale -Painting- in 2006.
In 2009, Kusama is honored as Person of Cultural Merits in Japan.