What Type Of Artist Is The Japanese Artist Yayoi Kusama?

What Type Of Artist Is The Japanese Artist Yayoi Kusama?

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Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese artist who is well-known around the world. She has produced a variety of artworks that have been shown in many major museums around the world.

Yayoi Kusama calls herself an obsessional artist or an artist who does stereotypical repetition. Her art does not fit into one single art movement. Kusama calls herself an environmental artist as her art will encompass the entire space, including the walls, ceilings, and floors. Her art is about perspective and an infinity that never ends. Yayoi Kusama works in various mediums, from paintings, art installations, sculptures, and writings to film. As her artwork is so varied, it is hard to pinpoint exactly what type of artist or art movement she is part of.

Table of Contents

Yayoi Kusama – The Artist

Yayoi Kusama calls herself an obsessional artist because she will obsessively repeat her themes, especially objects such as polka dots. It is hard to precisely define which type of artist Yayoi Kusama is because her art shows attributes in many art movements.

In speaking about her polka dots, she said:

“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. Pursuing ‘philosophy of the universe’ through art under such circumstances has led me to what I call ‘stereotypical repetition.’

Yayoi Kusama

Here is a video of an installation with the Tate Gallery in London where people put polka dots on a completely white room. It shows the fascination she has with polka dots and the people who come to participate in the active art installations at one of the Tate Art Galleries in London.

Yayoi Kusama's Obliteration Room | TateShots
Yayoi Kusama’s Obliteration Room | TateShots #tateshots

You can see from this Tate Installation (#tateshots) that her work uses repetitions and, in particular, many polka dots. This is why another name she will use for her art is stereotypical repetition because she will repeat things repeatedly.

Her art is also environmental, encompassing a space entirely from the ceilings, floors, walls, and even furniture. It is an art not just limited to the canvas but encompasses an entire space.

In an interview with the Tate Gallery curator in London, she spoke about her art and what drives her art:

Yayoi Kusama – Obsessed with Polka Dots | Tate
Yayoi Kusama – Obsessed with Polka Dots | Tate

There are so many variables and layers to Yayoi Kusama’s art and who she is as an artist that it is difficult to pinpoint precisely what kind of artist she is. She is multi-faceted and multi-talented.

She has been successful in various art fields such as painting, sculptures, art insulations, performance art, film, fashion, poetry, and fiction. She will put herself into the art as a central figure in some of her art.

Many people try to define what kind of artist she is; some say she is a conceptual artist, others say that she is pop art and minimalist artist. Others say her art shows attributes of feminism, surrealism, art brut, and abstract expressionism. Even the art critics and curators cannot fully agree on what type of artist Yayoi Kusama is.

Yayoi Kusama’s Art and Mental Health

One reason it is so hard to know what kind of artist Yayoi Kusama is because her work is infused with attributes of autobiographical, psychological, and sexual content. She has always been very open about the fact that she suffers from mental health.

In Japan, she lives in a mental health facility during the nighttime, but during the day, she goes to her studio to work on her art. Kusama is very disciplined in working in her studio every day. But she has also said that her art is a way for her to deal with and express her mental health issues.

At age 10, Yayoi Kusama started to experience hallucinations; many hallucinations involved fields of dots or polka dots that she would see on people and everywhere. She would also see endless fields of flowers, stars, nets, dots, or other themes; all of this has lead to her obsession to repeat these objects again and again in her art.

Yayoi Kusama said this about her art:

“My art originates from hallucinations only I can see. I translate the hallucinations and obsessional images that plague me into sculptures and paintings.”

Yayoi Kusama

For a long time, Yayoi Kusama was controversial in Japan; many in Japan were unsure if an artist who lives in a Psychiatric hospital should be promoted to represent Japanese art. Yayoi Kusama is very open about her mental health problems. Even today, she still lives in a Psychiatric Hospital and is under the care of mental health professionals; Yayoi Kusama walks two blocks every day from the hospital to her art studio to work.

Yayoi Kusama – An important Japanese Artist And Her Life Story

Yayoi Kusama had little formal training but is acknowledged as one of the most important Japanese artists. She has had her artwork viewed and shown around the world.

When Yoyoi was younger, she was influenced by Abstract Expressionism. When she moved to New York City in 1958, she became part of the New York avant-garde scene and the pop art movement.

In fact, during her time in New York City, she became a central artistic figure in the New York avant-garde movement. Her work was exhibited alongside other famous artists such as Andy Warhol, Donald Judd, and Claes Oldenburg.

She fully embraced the rise of the 1960s hippie counterculture. In adopting this 1960s counterculture, she famously organized art happenings with naked participants painted with brightly colored polka dots. She was also active in anti-war demonstrations and fashion shows. It was not uncommon for her to be arrested for these activities or art happenings.

She had many significant multi-media-related activities in the United States, such as film production and newspaper publication. She also had many exhibitions and stage happenings in various countries throughout Europe.

Her film “Self-obliteration” won quite a few different prizes and awards. This film showed she could act and star in a film and produce one.

In 1973, she returned to Japan; at this time, her mental health issues also increased as she had a mental breakdown while in America. She came back to Japan as a very controversial figure as many of her art happenings and demonstrations in America reached the Japanese press. This meant that she needed to start over again in Japan.

Kusama did not allow this to stop her, and she continued to produce artwork. She also started writing; in 1983, the novel The Hustlers Grotto of Christopher Street won the Ted Literary Award for new writers from the monthly magazine Yasel Jidai.

Kusama showed us that as an artist, she would not just paint or sculpt, but she was also ready to explore other art areas such as media, film, and writing. This shows how multifaceted and talented she was.

Not only did she write poetry and a novel, but she won awards for her writing. Not only was she able to produce a film, but she was also able to win some film competitions. This shows she was an artist who was able to touch many aspects of artistic expression profoundly.

Kusama – Infinity – Official Trailer
Kusama Infinity – By Magnolia Pictures – Documentary

Kusama Infinity – The Documentary

Yayoi Kusama’s blog would be incomplete without mentioning a documentary about her struggles, art, and life called Kusama – Infinity. This is a fabulous documentary that goes through her life and many of her personal and professional struggles. You can buy the documentary on DVD or rent or buy it on Amazon Prime. Please find out more about how to watch it by clicking here.

Yayoi Kusama is a pioneer in art who was unafraid to push boundaries. She is a creative genius. She is also the most successful living female artist.

One thing that comes out in this documentary is how incredible Yayoi Kusama is and how determined she was to follow her dream of becoming an artist no matter the cost. While in Japan, she wrote to famous American artists like Georgia O’Keeffe. Georgia O’Keeffe took the time to write back to her and to mentor and help her.

It was Georgia O’Keeffe that encouraged her to come to the United States. Despite the odds and hardships of getting to America from Japan in 1958, she journeyed to New York City. She also met her mentor, Georgia O’Keeffe in New York.

One thing that became very clear even from the beginning was that Kusama was her own woman and artist; her work is original in every way. She was extraordinarily bold and unafraid to speak her mind and stand up for her work.

I find her story to be one of inspiration and determination. The lesson to her story is that every artist should follow their dreams and style and develop their own art. Every artist should stay true to who they are and their art, as Yayoi Kusama did.

Major Exhibitions, Artwork, and Art Installations

When you look at the timeline of her artwork, you see there is hardly any place in the world that her artwork has not touched. Here is a year-by-year account of her major art happenings, artwork, art installations, and awards. This list is not complete,z as there are many more, but these are some of the major ones that she lists on her own website that you can visit by clicking here.

1968Kumasa’s Self-ObliterationNational Lifetime Achievement Awards
The Order of the Rising Sun
Gold Rays with Lisette
The Praemium Imperiale
1983The Hustler’s Grotto of
Christopher Street
A novel that won the Tenth Literary Award for New Writers
from the monthly magazine Yasel Jidai
1994 –
Open Air Pieces Fukuoka Kenko Center
Fukuoka Municipal Museum of Art
Bunka- mura on Benesse Island of Naoshima
Matsudai Station
TGV’s Litlle- Europe Station in France
Beverly Garden Park, Beverly Hills, CA
Pyeonghwa Park, Anyang
Mural in Subway – Lisbon, Portugal
1995/96/97Exhibitions in New York Won Best Gallery Shows
1998 to 1999Traveling Art Museum Shows Los Angeles County Museum
Museum of Modern Art, New York
The Walker Art Center
Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan
2000The Education Minister’s Art
Encouragement Prize
Won the Education Art Encouragement Prize and
Foreign-Miniter’s Commendations
2000Traveling Solo Exhibition Le Consortium, France
Maison de la culture du Japon, Paris
Kunsthallen Brandts/Edefabrik, Denmark
Les Abattoirs. Toulouse, France
Kunsthalle Wien
Art Sonje Center. Seoul
2001Asahi PrizeArt Award
2002 Dark Navy Blue Ribbon The Medal With The Navy Blue Ribbon
2003 Art Awards French Ordres des Arts et des Lettres (Officers)
Nagano Government Prize
2004 Solo Exhibitions –
Mori Museum in Tokyo
The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto
Hiroshima City of Museum of Contemporary Art
Contemporary Art Museum, Kumamoto
Matsumoto City Museum of Art
2006Achievement Awards Solo Exhibitions and
2008Documentary Film Documentary Film – Yayoi Kusama, I Adore Myself
Viewed through Japan and the world.
2010Solo Exhibitions Towada Art Center, Japan (Permanent Sculpture)
Sydney Biennale and Aichi Triennle
Victoria Miro Gallery, London
FIAC, Paris
2011Yayoi Kusama
Obsesion Infinita
(Infinite Obsession)
Gagosian Gallary, Rome, Italy
Victoria Miro Gallery, London, England
Museo Nacional Centro De Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid
Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
Whitney Museum, New York
Watari Art Museum, Tokyo
Chengdu. China
Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia
2012 to
Traveling Show –
Eternity to Eternal Eternity,
Solo Exhibitions
National Museum of Art, Osaka, Japan
The Museum of Modern Art, Saitama
Matsumoto City Museum of Art, Nagano
Nigata City of Art Museum
Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art
Oita Museum
Museum of Art, Koch
Victoria Miro Gallery, London
2013Awards Shinjuku Honorary Citizen Award
The American Academy of Arts and
Letters Foreign Honorary Membership Award.
2013 Yayoi Kusama
Obsession Infinita
(Infinite Obsession)
Malba, Funacacion Constantini
Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rio de Janiero, Brazil
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Mexico City.
2013 Kusama Yayoi
A Dream I Dreamed
Daegu Art Museum, Korea
Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai
Seoul Arts Centre
Taipei Museum of Fine Arts
National Gallery of Modern Art, New Dehli, India.
Timeline of Yayoi Kusama Major Exhibitions, Artwork, Art Installations and Awards

Yayoi Kusama is so popular that her work continues to draw huge crowds worldwide. New York City is showing her work at the New York Botanical Gardens. If you are in New York City, you can see this amazing artist and her work.

One of the reasons why it is so difficult to pinpoint exactly what type of artist Yayoi Kusama is because her artwork and artwork are also varied. She is an artistic genius. This makes her unique, and it is difficult to answer what type of artist she is; Kusama follows her own heart, so her art is unique and exciting.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What type of artist is Yayoi Kusama?

Yayoi Kusama is a versatile artist who defies categorization into a specific art movement. She often refers to herself as an obsessional artist, emphasizing her tendency towards stereotypical repetition.

How would you define Yayoi Kusama’s artistic style?

Kusama’s art spans various mediums and is characterized by a unique blend of surrealism, pop art, and minimalism. Her works often feature vibrant colors, intricate patterns, and a strong sense of repetition.

What is meant by Kusama’s self-description as an “environmental artist”?

Yayoi Kusama considers herself an environmental artist because her creations extend beyond individual artworks to encompass entire spaces. This includes covering walls, ceilings, and floors, creating immersive and all-encompassing environments.

Can you provide examples of the mediums Yayoi Kusama works in?

Kusama is a multi-disciplinary artist, working in various mediums such as paintings, art installations, sculptures, writings, and even film. This diversity contributes to the challenge of neatly categorizing her within a single artistic genre.

Does Yayoi Kusama belong to any specific art movement?

No, Yayoi Kusama’s art does not align with a specific art movement. She is recognized for her unique approach and is often regarded as an independent and influential figure in the contemporary art scene.

What is the significance of repetition in Kusama’s art?

Repetition is a central theme in Kusama’s work, symbolizing her obsessions and mental states. The repetition of patterns and forms in her art serves to create a sense of infinity and endlessness.

How does Yayoi Kusama use perspective in her art?

Kusama’s art often plays with perspective, creating illusions of depth and infinity. The immersive nature of her installations enhances the viewer’s perception, inviting them to experience a visual journey.

Is there a specific cultural influence in Yayoi Kusama’s artwork?

While Kusama’s work is deeply rooted in her Japanese heritage, her art transcends cultural boundaries. She blends traditional Japanese elements with contemporary artistic expressions, creating a universal appeal.

How has Yayoi Kusama’s art been received globally?

Yayoi Kusama has gained international acclaim, with her exhibitions showcased in major museums worldwide. Her avant-garde approach and distinctive style have contributed to her status as a global icon in the art world.

Who Was The American Artist Georgia O’Keeffe?

Georgia O’Keeffe was a dairy farm girl from Wisconsin who became one of America’s iconic female modernism painters. She had to leave college due to her father’s untimely bankruptcy. When she was in school in New York, she met her future husband, the photographer and gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz.

Georgia O’Keefe is well known for her many American western subject matters and oversized flowers that she painted. She had a home and studio in the US state of New Mexico. You can visit her home in New Mexico and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

You caeadiung n discover more by reading Georgia O’Keeffe, The Mother of American Modernism Painting by clicking here.

What Is A Japanese Woodblock Print?

A Japanese woodblock print is, as the name implies, a print that is made by using carved woodblock and applying ink on the woodblocks to print a design on paper.   The Japanese woodblock artists use the woodblocks to print artistic prints and even books.  Artists have used the woodblock print technique in Japan for hundreds of years.  

You can learn more about it by reading What Is A Japanese Woodblock Print? by clicking here.

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