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Kusama was born in 1929 in in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, Japan. She started her art studies in Kyoto in the tradition of Nihonga painting, but quickly rebelled and joined the avant-garde in Tokyo in the 1950’s, before moving to New York in 1957.

After a brief interlude of painting in the style of Abstract Expressionism, she became associated with the Pop Art movement, exhibiting alongside artists such as Johns, Warhol and Oldenburg, although in Europe she also exhibited alongside painters such as Fontana, Uecker and Piene. Later in the 1960s she organised happenings calculated to scandalise with naked participants painted over with the polka dots which were to become her signature style. It was there that she first created her mirror rooms, filled with coloured electric bulbs creating an impression of infinite illuminated space.

She returned to Japan in 1973, and in 1977 voluntarily admitted herself to a hospital for the mentally ill, where she has resided ever since, maintaining a studio close by. She has continued to paint, sculpt, and writenovels and poems. For a time she dropped out of the international exhibition circuit, but after representing Japan at the 1993 Venice Biennale, retrospectives have been mounted at MoMA, New York (1998), the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2004), the Whitney Museum and Tate Modern (2012), and has participated in several other museum exhibitions in the USA and Europe since then.

 

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Biography

Exhibitions

Enquiries

Kusama was born in 1929 in in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, Japan. She started her art studies in Kyoto in the tradition of Nihonga painting, but quickly rebelled and joined the avant-garde in Tokyo in the 1950’s, before moving to New York in 1957.

After a brief interlude of painting in the style of Abstract Expressionism, she became associated with the Pop Art movement, exhibiting alongside artists such as Johns, Warhol and Oldenburg, although in Europe she also exhibited alongside painters such as Fontana, Uecker and Piene. Later in the 1960s she organised happenings calculated to scandalise with naked participants painted over with the polka dots which were to become her signature style. It was there that she first created her mirror rooms, filled with coloured electric bulbs creating an impression of infinite illuminated space.

She returned to Japan in 1973, and in 1977 voluntarily admitted herself to a hospital for the mentally ill, where she has resided ever since, maintaining a studio close by. She has continued to paint, sculpt, and writenovels and poems. For a time she dropped out of the international exhibition circuit, but after representing Japan at the 1993 Venice Biennale, retrospectives have been mounted at MoMA, New York (1998), the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2004), the Whitney Museum and Tate Modern (2012), and has participated in several other museum exhibitions in the USA and Europe since then.

 

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