The following blog post is the third in a series of Facebook posts I wrote for Women's History Month, and to follow along with the hashtag #5WomenArtists, started by the National Museum of Women in the Arts. These posts were written to be an accessible, informative, and humorous way to encourage friends of mine to engage with art history and feminism.
HI GUYS WE'RE ON A ROLL! We're talking about #5WomenArtists in celebration of Women's History Month, leading up to International Women's Day on the 8th! Hey wow neat. Check out my first post about gender inequality in the arts and Sophie Taeuber-Arp and the following one on Zubeida Agha. They're on my page. Go read them.
Yesterday we were in Pakistan in 1947, and today we are in NEW YORK and it is 1958! You are hanging with Yayoi Kusama, 27, who has just moved from Japan to make it big in America. Already an established artist in Japan, Kusama grew tired of the same old same old kimono and cherry blossoms watercolour scene that she felt Japan had to offer, and quickly struck up friendships with Georgia O'Keefe, Donald Judd, and Eva Hesse in their hip af studio which THEY ALL SHARED. Dang.
Ever since Kusama was a child, she was plagued with some pretty intense hallucinations. To her, these hallucinations were reminiscent of a never ending series of polka dots, and these polka dots (which she called "infinity nets") quickly became a signature of her very large body of conceptual art. If you've ever seen a room totally fucking wrekt with polka dot stickers & somebody called it art, you can bet that our homegirl Kusama was behind it. Not to be confined to simply one style or signature, however, Kusama also continued to pursue painting, as well as sculpture, and performance art.
In 1967, Kusama performed a fairly notorious piece of performance art at the 33rd Venice Biennale, where she, dressed in a golden kimono, attempted to sell off her sculpture, piece by piece, to passers-by. The biennale organisers were Not Having It, and quickly shut her down. Et tu, The Man?
In 1973, Kusama packed up shop and headed back for Japan. She felt that her mental health had taken a turn for the worse, and so voluntarily checked herself into the Seiwa Hospital for the Mentally Ill, where she still lives today. She is still practicing art at the age of 87, and has been recognised internationally as a defining artist of her generation. She has teamed up with major fashion designers of all sorts, and major retrospectives of her work have been shown at the Tate, The MoMA, and the Whitney. In 2008, Christie's sold one of her works for $5.1 million, the then-record for any female artist (oh, and for comparison, the highest selling piece of art of all time is a Picasso at $179 million. that gender gap, huh?). Make her a household name.
The piece I've uploaded with this post as its thumbnail is "I pray with all of my love for tulips." (2012). Also, below, check out Kusama's DRESS SENSE, y'all.
Check out some more of her work here: http://www.victoria-miro.com/artists/31-yayoi-kusama/