Yayoi Kusama is known for producing bright, psychedelic works of art containing repetition of a single element per work. Her most popular are white circles, curbed triangles (which Kusama dubbed “network of infinity,” and pumpkins. The source of her creativity lies in the structure of her psyche- like many artists, as a child she suffered from obsessive neurosis and was haunted by visions and hallucinations. This, however, did not prevent her from living a long and rich artistic life and rising to international prominence. In 2008 one of her paintings was sold for $5,100,100, a setting a new record for female artists.
White circles on a red background is probably the most recognizable of Kusama’s patterns. This roots back to her childhood hallucinations. In the 1960s, she was at the epicenter of the hippy movement, which attracted eccentrics and pacifists. Kusama was dubbed as one of the leaders of avant-garde. Due to her style’s exotic inspiration, it quickly became popular. In the second half of the 1960s, Kusama organized anti-war campaigns and created her famous “mirror rooms:” spaces that immerse viewers into an unusual, surreal environment created by complex mirror designs and elements of light. By the end of the 60s, Kusama was already an accomplished artist whose methods were extremely recognizable. “My art originates from hallucinations only I can see. I translate the hallucinations and obsessional images that plague me into sculptures and paintings. All my works in pastels are the products of obsessional neurosis and are therefore inextricably connected to my disease. I create pieces even when I don’t see hallucinations, though,” she stated in one of her interviews.
In the 1970s, the artist was forced to leave the art scene due to a deterioration in her mental state (she spent more than a decade in seclusion), but by the end of the 1980s she had been her name had come up again due to several retrospective exhibitions in Europe. In 1993, Yayoi Kusama was entrusted to represent Japan at the Venice Biennale and in 2011, she collaborated with designer Marc Jacobs on a collection for Louis Vuitton. Today, she is fruitfully working on paintings, sculptures and prints on sale at auctions, which always go for more than their upper estimate.