"If it were not for art, I would have killed myself a long time ago.”
Kusama trained in a formal style of Japanese painting called Nihonga, that was popular during the Meiji period (from 1868 - 1912) as a way of revitalising Japanese traditions and deflecting the influence of western art. In 1958 her interest in the international art scene led Kusama to make a new home in New York.
Kusama’s work from this time is best remembered as the beginning of the Infinity Nets series of paintings, vast canvases measuring up to 33 feet in length, entirely covered in small, thickly painted loops representing infinity. Influenced by childhood hallucinations of dots and nets this theme has become prominent throughout Kusama’s career. The mere scale and scope of Kusama’s work embeds itself in the viewers memory and her art is as much experienced as it is seen.
As one of Japan’s most prominent artists, she has worked in a wide variety of media including painting, collage, sculpture, performance art and many public and private installations.
During the 1960s, Kusama rubbed shoulders with the likes of Donald Judd, Andy Warhol, Joseph Cornell and Claes Oldenburg.
Kusama’s work has become known for being provocative and as part of her anti-war (Vietnam) demonstrations Kusama wrote an open letter to Richard Nixon offering him vigorous sex if he would put a stop to the war.
In 2012 she collaborated with Louis Vuitton's creative director Marc Jacobs on the collection "LOUIS VUITTON × YAYOI KUSAMA”. Kusama’s genius has been exhibited all over the planet.
Kusama's giant creative talent has been held in thrall to her mental illness at times and she has lived voluntarily in a psychiatric institution since 1977.