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Whitney Museum Showcases Legendary Yayoi Kusama (photos)


Photo: Samantha Chang/TheImproper

The works of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama are the focal point of a transcendent career retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

At a preview today (July 10), the Whitney put on display six decades of bold, colorful paintings, sculptures, drawings and immersive installations by the legendary artist.

Kusama’s imaginative depictions of expansive space have been a central focus of her artistic career.

Check out Kusama’s works; click to enlarge.


“Fireflies on the Water” (2002), a carefully constructed environment of lights, mirrors, and water has been described as “an almost hallucinatory approach to reality.”

Well known for her use of polka dots and nets, the Japan-born Kusama came to the United States in 1957 and found herself at the epicenter of the New York avant-garde art scene.

Since moving back to Japan in 1973, Kusama has voluntarily lived in a psychiatric institution (the Seiwa Hospital for the Mentally Ill) where she continues to live and work today. Much of her artwork has underscored a neurotic obsessiveness and desire to escape from psychological trauma.

A few years ago, one of her paintings sold at Christie’s auction house for $5.1 million, a record for any living female artist. At 83, the reclusive artist has no intention of slowing down.

“I painted everything myself and I am very proud of that,” she said. “I have done 200 paintings recently — only some of them are in the gallery downstairs. My legs hurt because of the years and years [I have spent] standing while painting. Now I am in a wheelchair. The doctor is taking care of my knees. He said he can fix them.”

Kusama’s career retrospective is on view at the Whitney from July 12-September 30, 2012, and has been seen this year in Madrid, Paris and London. The Whitney is the final stop of this breathtaking traveling exhibition.

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