Since 1977 Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) has lived voluntarily in a psychiatric institution, and 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 obsessively charged vision of endless dots and nets or infinitely mirrored space.
At the centre of the art world in the 1960s, Yayoi Kusama came into contact with artists including Donald Judd, Andy Warhol, Joseph Cornell and Claes Oldenburg, influencing many along the way. She has traded on her identity as an "outsider" in many contexts - as a female artist in a male-dominated society, as a Japanese person in the Western art world, and as a victim of her own neurotic and obsessional symptoms.
Renowned early installations such as Infinity Mirror Room – Phalli’s Field (1965) along with recent immersive environments including Fireflies on the Water (2000) and Clouds (2008) provide insight into the creative energy of the Japanese artist and her lifelong preoccupation with the perceptual, visual and physical worlds.
Working across different media and forms that include painting, collage, sculpture, installation and film, as well as performance and its documentation, Kusama creates works that reveal a fixation with repetition, pattern and accumulation. Describing herself as an “obsessive artist”, her work is intensely sensual, infused with autobiographical, psychological and sexual content, notably in her parodies of phallic power. Yayoi Kusama is now considered Japan's most prominent contemporary artist.
This retrospective features works spanning Kusama’s career.
Kusama’s Fireflies on the Water, a work in the Whitney’s collection, is being shown in conjunction with Yayoi Kusama and is on view in the Lobby Gallery.
Whitney Museum of American Art Website