Yayoi Kusama at Tate

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What kind of person checks themself into a mental institution? Welcome to the world of Yayoi Kusama, an upper-class Japanese woman who has torn up the outdated rulebook of a male-dominated industry, creating works bursting with style and attitude that range from the delicate, to the invasive; the repetitive, to the immersive.

The multi-media artist and writer started drawing from a young age.  After finding her preferred mode of expression, Kusama fought her parents’ restrictions to attend a drawing school in Tokyo. Rebelling against the ‘getting a rich husband’ philosophy, Kusama moved to the US aged 28 and began experimenting with her newly found artistic freedom. Taking inspiration from the abstract and expressionist movements of the time, Kusama started developing her talent for sculptures and installations.

In the sixties Kusama pioneered performance art, particularly the naked variety, representing the liberating, hippy spirit. As well as being a key figure for feminist art, Kusama has mingled with the Andy Warhol and George Segal types and was part of an artistic elite that ruled the avant-garde movement.

To those lucky enough to have attended the 2009 “Walking in My Mind” exhibition at London’s Hayward Gallery, her renowned polka dots will already be familiar.

At the time of writing, Kusama celebrates her 90th birthday with highlights of an exhibition of her work from throughout her life at the Tate Modern. Visitors can expect to gain a more in depth understanding of her lengthy and distinguished career, with some of her early and incredibly detailed drawings on show. Her exquisite costumes are also displayed, as is the focal point, three immersive rooms.

Not only is Yayoi’s art guaranteed a place in history, it’s also highly lucrative. Just ask Christie’s who in 2008 sold one of her pieces for over $5 million. Blessed with an obsessive and creative spirit Kusama has had to overcome many challenges in her life, but she is now rightfully being recognised as one of the most influential women in her field, ever.

Yayoi Kusama is at Tate Modern until 5thJune 2012


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