Yayoi Kusama is living her best life at 89

By Bridgett Rowley

Yayoi Kusama is living her best life at 89

Yayoi Kusama (草間 彌生 or 弥生) is living her best life at 89. The works of Yayoi Kusama have transcended some of the most powerful art movements for the past 50 years. Kusama Yayoi is a Japanese artist and writer. She has worked in a wide variety of mixed media including painting, collage, performance art, sculpture and environmental installations.

I have admired Kusama’s work for quite some time. Her Infinity Mirrored Room was all the buzz last year during it’s run at The Broad in LA. All 90,000 of the Broad’s $25 advance tickets sold out within hours in September and lines wrapped around the block for standby tickets. The Broad knew to expect crowds because it was the third stop on the show’s North American tour. The first stop was at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC. They saw the Spring attendance double to a record 475,000 visitors. 

Kasuma’s latest installation, With All My Love For The Tulips, I Pray Forever debuted in Los Angeles at the Marciano Art Foundation last month. The Art Foundation is owned by famed, Guess Denim designers, Maurice and Paul Marciano. The installation is comprised of an oversized potted tulip sculpture painted with red polka dots on a stark white background. The floor, ceiling and walls share the exact red polka dotted painted sequence. The exhibit is a psychedelic viewing experience and has a dizzying effect. The staff at MAO is rotated out regularly to prevent visually induced dizziness. With that being said, it is a must see, even if you do get a little dizzy. I got dizzy and I still highly recommend it. 

Kasuma is known for creating an immersive viewing experience for the spectator. Kasuma’s talent of drawing viewers into her work and creating a visceral experience is like no other. This exhibit exemplifies the dichotomy between the organic and the artificial. This is a common theme throughout her work. These exhibits illustrate her thematic interest in psychedelic colors and repetition.This was a precursor of the pop art, minimalist and feminist art movements.

Kusama exhibited her work alongside contemporaries such as Andy Warhol, George Segal and Claes Oldenburg. She moved to New York City in 1957, where she produced a series of paintings influenced by abstract expressionism. She ultimately switched to sculpture and installation as her primary medium. Kusama was a fixture of the New York avant-garde scene during the early 1960s when she became associated with the pop-art movement. She also embraced the rise of the hippie counterculture of the late sixties. Kusama gained public notoriety when she organized a series of nude participants, painted with brightly colored polka dots to protest the Vietnam War.

Kusama is revered as one of the most important living artists to come out of Japan, and an important voice of the avant-garde. Kusama's work is a menagerie of conceptual art which shows some attributes of feminism, minimalism, surrealism, pop art, and abstract expressionism. Her work is infused with psychological and sexual content. Major retrospectives of her work have been held at the Museum of Modern Art in 1998, the Whitney Museum and the Tate Modern in 2012, and the Hirshhorn Museum 2017. 

Kasuma received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Women's Caucus for Art. Christie's New York sold a work by her for $5.1 million which at the time was the record price paid for artwork by a living female artist.

About Marciano Art Foundation:

The Marciano brothers moved to Los Angeles, California from the South of France in 1981 and started a small denim company that would eventually grow into the world-renowned brand. Their love of the West Coast coupled with a European flare became the driving force behind the creation of the iconic denim lifestyle brand, GUESS. Their interest in contemporary art began around the same time. They often visited galleries and auctions in Paris, New York, and Los Angeles. Some of their favorite artists were the likes of Roy Lichtenstein, Gerhard Richter, and Sam Francis. Maurice and Paul soon began to spend time with artists in their studio, including Ed Ruscha, which allowed them to experience the joy of learning about art directly from the artists. 

Maurice and Paul were fascinated by how quick the Los Angeles art scene was expanding. They cultivated relationships with artists that became just as important to them as the works they collected. In 2012 they decided to share their collection with the public, resulting in the evolution of the Marciano Art Foundation. In 2013 they bought the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple on Wilshire Boulevard and converted it into a progressive art foundation. 

Visit https://tickets.marcianoartfoundation.org/events/88fc459a-0839-ff18-ac02-2eb72aed5788 to reserve tickets