GE Assignment Artist: Yayoi Kusama
GE Assignment Writing
“My art needed a more unlimited freedom and a wider world.” was said by Yayoi Kusama, it was quoted in the article made by The Art Story, and that tells you a lot about her as a person. She was born in Masuto, Japan in 1929 in a family of four, however, she was the only one that was abused. Her mother was abusive and utilized her as a spy to learn about the sexual life of Kusama’s father. That traumatized her and caused her dislike of the male body.
Kusama mentioned that from the trauma caused to her she started to have vivid hallucinations since she was ten years old. Those hallucinations would sometimes take the form of talking flowers or patterns in fabric that would come to life to eat her. At least she found a way to work with the hallucinations, she started drawing them. According to her, they were therapeutic because they would provide comfort and control. Her art became a coping mechanism against her anxiety and the bad memories that were tormenting her, and I believe that they became her ticket out of Japan.
While in Japan she studied art in Masumoto and Kyoto, but during that time there was a movement happening in Japan rejecting western culture. That left her with no other option but to start studying 1,000-year-old traditional techniques of Japan, but she didn’t like it which is why she said “ For art like mine, [Japan] was too small…and too scornful of women. My art needed a more unlimited freedom, and a wider world.”.
In 1957 Yayoi Kusama moved to the United States and settled down a year later in New York. Where she started making exhibitions thanks to the help of Georgia O’Keeffe. In these exhibitions, she started using her signature style by using polka dots in a very repetitive and mesmerizing way. One example of that would be the “Infinity Net” paintings, where she makes thousands of tiny marks obsessively with no regard for the edges of the canvas.
In 1967 began the social phenomena known as the summer of love or hippie culture where people were anti-government and desired peace and love where Kusama was heavily involved by having performances by having people painted with her signature polka dots. At the end of the hippie movement, Kusama became an outcast which then leads Kusama to return to Japan.
After returning to Japan Kusama admitted herself to a hospital to help her with her hallucination, mania, and anxieties. With her mental health having cared for, this allowed Kusama to truly focus on her artwork to evolve into her more current style. Kusama’s story of her mental health let the public have a deeper understanding of Kusama.
GE Assignment Drawing