"With just one polka dot, nothing can be achieved. In the universe, there is the sun, the moon, the earth, and hundreds of millions of stars. All of us live in the unfathomable mystery and infinitude of the universe."
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929, Matsumoto, Japan) is a contemporary painter, sculptor, performer, author, filmmaker, and fashion designer whose works have garnered widespread acclaim since the mid-1960s. Her extensive use of polka dots, pumpkin images, and expanding imagery spans decades of work, creating a pleasantly cohesive oeuvre which is among the most immediately recognizable in contemporary art. Kusama recalls her love of art in her earliest childhood memories, when she would use her fingers to create polka-dotted paper works. She left home in her early teens to study art in Kyoto – her only formal artistic training. By 1951, she had moved to New York City with a suitcase full of 2,000 paintings, and, with the help of Georgia O’Keefe, began to break into the art world. Intentionally breaking from the in-vogue styles of de Kooning, Pollock, and other action painters, Kusama began work on her Infinity Net paintings, monochromatic works that presupposed the bold polka-dot patterns that characterize her later work. Her career in New York spanned a wide variety of subjects and mediums, from mirrored Infinity Rooms to public happenings (featuring nude, polka-dot-painted models) to furniture and clothing covered in phalluses. These projects gained her international acclaim, but several physical and mental health issues forced her to return to Tokyo in 1973, where she was soon diagnosed and institutionalized for obsessive-compulsive disorder. In 1977 Kusama chose to remain a permanent patient of the hospital, where she currently resides. Each day, she leaves the hospital to work in her studio just down the street, where she continues to create art with the same passion that has defined her illustrious career.