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Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama (Japan, 1929)
For almost seventy years Yayoi Kusama has developed her practice in a dizzying sequence of artistic endeavours, exploring painting, drawing, collage, sculpture, performance, film, printmaking, installation and environmental art, as well as literature, fashion and product design. The defining motifs of her unique art are an all-over net pattern and the negative spaces between the individual loops of the net, which can be read as polka dots. For Kusama these motifs have their roots in hallucinations from which she has suffered since childhood, in which the world appears to her to be covered with proliferating forms.

Although her work shares affiliations with Surrealism, Minimalism, Pop art, the Zero and Nul movements, Eccentric Abstraction and Feminist art, Kusama's practice resists any singular classification. From Infinity Nets, where intricate lattices of paint cover the surface of her canvases, to Accumulation sculptures, where everyday objects are made uncanny with a covering of soft-sculpture phallic forms or dried macaroni; from the provocative happenings she staged in New York in the 1960s to the mysterious and magical mirrored room installations of recent years; from monumental outdoor sculptures to influential collaborations with figures as varied as Peter Gabriel and Marc Jacobs; Kusama's work has been far-reaching, expansive and immersive, allowing the viewer to enter into a fully realized Kusama world.

Born in Matsumoto City, Japan in 1929, Kusama now lives and works in Tokyo. Kusama represented Japan at the Venice Biennale in 1993 and has been the subject of many major international museum exhibitions, including a major touring retrospective in 2011-12 presented at Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Tate Modern, London; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. In 2013-15 she is the subject of three major international museum exhibitions: Yayoi Kusama: Infinite Obsession at Malba - Fundación Costantini, Buenos Aires, travelling to Centro Cultural Banco do Brazil, Rio de Janeiro; Centro Cultural Banco de Brazil, Brasilia; Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo and Museo Tamayo, Mexico City; Kusama Yayoi: A Dream I Dreamed at the Daegu Art Musuem, Korea, travelling to Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai; Seoul Arts Centre, Korea; National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi and other Asian venues; and Yayoi Kusama: Eternity of Eternal Eternity at the National Museum of Art, Osaka, travelling to the Museum of Modern Art, Saitama; Matsumoto City Museum of Art; Niigata City Art Museum; Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art; Oita Art Museum; the Museum of Art, Kochi and other Japanese venues.

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Born in Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture
Entered the Nagano Prefectural Matsumoto Girls’ High School(now renamed Nagano Prefectural Arigasaki High School) Took lessons in Nihonga.
Enrolled in the final, fourth-year stream of the course at the Kyoto Municipal School of Arts and Crafts (later renamed Kyoto City Dohda Senior High School of Arts)
First solo exhibition held at Matsumoto First Community Center
Solo exhibition at Dusanne Gallery, Seattle, US
Left for the US and lived in Seattle
Moved to New York. Enrolled in the New York Art Students’ League, and later the Brooklyn Museum School and Washington Irving School
First solo exhibition in New York. Exhibited five paintings featuring “nets”
First be introduced to Europe through “Monochrome Malerei” at Leverkusen Museum, Germany
Solo exhibition “Kusama: Driving Image Show” at R. Castellane Gallery, New York
Began to stage Happenings. Received Rockfeller Foundation grant
Solo exhibition “Kusama’s Peep Show” at R. Castellane Gallery, New York
Participated unofficially in the Venice Biennale. Exhibited an open-air installation, Narcissus Garden, covering the lawn with 1,500 plastic mirror balls
Won a prize at the 4th International Experimental Film Competition (Belgium), 2nd Maryland Film Festival and 2nd prize at the Ann Arbor Film Festival by produced and starred in film Kusama ‘s Self-Obliteration
Wrote, directed and produced the films Flower Orgy and Homosexual Orgy
Established Kusama Enterprises and Kusama International Film Production
Established Kusama Fashion Enterprises
Opened a fashion boutique in New York
Published a weekly newspaper titled KUSAMA Orgy, distributed across the US
Returned to Japan for 3 months. Performed Happenings and being arrested in Tokyo
Staged Happenings and fashion shows throughout Europe especially in Rome
Returned to Japan, relocating her artistic activities from US to Tokyo
Solo exhibition “Kusama Yayoi:Message of Death from Hades” at Nishimura Gallery, Tokyo
Admitted herself into hospital in Shinjuku, where she has lived ever since
Published her first novel, Manhattan Suicide Addict
Won the 10th Literary Award for New Writers from the magazine Yaseijidai by her novel The Hustlers Grotto of Christopher Street
First solo exhibition in a Japanese museum: “Kusama Yayoi” in Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art, Fukuoka
Exhibition “Yayoi Kusama: A Retrospective” at the Center for International Contemporary Arts, New York.
First solo artist to exhibit in the Japan Pavilion, at the 45th Venice Biennale
Awarded “Best Gallery Show” in 1995-96 by The US branch of the International Association of Art Critics for her solo show at Paula Cooper Gallery, New York
Also won the “Best Gallery Show” for 1996-97
Solo exhibition “Love Forever: Yayoi Kusama, 1958-1968” in Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Solo exhibition “Love Forever: Yayoi Kusama” at Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo
Won the 50th Japan Education Ministry Art Encouragement Prize.
Awarded Foreign Ministry Commendation
Received the Asahi Prize
Received Japan’s “Dark Blue Ribbon” Medal of Honor
Exhibition “Yayoi Kusama: The Place for My Soul” at Matsumoto City Museum of Art, Nagano
Received the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres(Officier)
Received the Nagano Governor’s Prize, for contributions to art and culture
Solo exhibition “Kusamatrix” at Mori Art Museum, Tokyo
Series of museum solo exhibition “Yayoi Kusama: Eternity-Modernity” at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo and the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto
“Yayoi Kusama: Eight Places for Burning Soul” at Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Hiroshima
“Yayoi Kusama: Sailing the Sea of Infinity” at Contemporary Art Museum, Kumamoto, “Yayoi Kusama: The Place for My Soul” at Matsumoto City Museum of Art
Received the 2006 National Lifetime Achievement Award for the arts; the Order of the Rising Sun- Fourth Class, Gold Rays with Rosette; and the Praemium Imperiale for Painting
Documentary film “Yayoi Kusama, I Adore Myself” was released.
Named an honorary citizen of Matsumoto City
Was named a Person of Cultural Merit
“Arts Towada Grand Opening Memorial Exhibition,” at Arts Towada, Aomori, Japan
Permanent exhibition, the large scale outdoor installation “Love Forever, Singing in Towada”, opened to the public
Retrospective exhibition tours “Yayoi Kusama,” at Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid/Centre Pompidou, Paris/Tate Modern, London/Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
Solo exhibition “Kusama’s Body Festival in ‘60s,” Watari-um Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo
Solo national travelling show “YAYOI KUSAMA: Eternity of Eternal Eternity,” started at National Museum of Art, Osaka. Travelled to at Matsumoto City Museum of Art, Nagano/Niigata City Art Museum/ Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art, Oita Art Museum and Museum of Art, Koch.
Solo exhibition at Victoria Miro gallery (London).
Won Shinjuku Honorary Citizen Award.
Yayoi Kusama. Obsesión infinita [Infinite Obsession]", South America retrospective tour started at Malba - Fundacacion Constantini. It will travel to Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil/Rio de Janeiro, Centro Cultutal Banco do Brasil, Brasília/Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo and Mexico City. “KUSAMA YAYOI, A Dream I Dreamed", recent works exhibition tour started at Daegu Art Museum, Korea. It will travel to Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai, Seoul Arts Centre, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi.