5 Unexpected things you never knew about the revolutionary artist Yayoi Kusama


When we say Yayoi Kusama, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Countless colors? Polka dots? Her extraordinary style? Her sweet yet mysterious facial expressions? Well, today we’re about to learn some new things about the extraordinary artist and take a deep dive into her world that is anything but boring.

In case this is the first time you’re hearing her name, Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese contemporary artist whose field of work is primarily sculpture and installation. Yet, she also an active painter, performance artist, filmmaker, poet and many other things. She is known as the most important artist to come from Japan.

1. Yayoi Kusama is a life-long fashion lover


In 1960, the artist launched her own label. The label created avant-garde clothes and costumes that became a part of her performances. She even collaborated with such fashion powerhouse as Louis Vuitton and used her polka dot motif to decorate their handbags that are so well known around the world.


Ant art installation by Yayoi Kusama

2. Andy Warhol was her friend but the relationship was complicated


Warhol and Kusama spent a lot of time together in New York. Yet, later on, she did accuse him of stealing her ideas. In 1963 she did a show in New York and covered a rowing boat with phalluses and wallpapered the room with repeated identical photocopies of the picture. Warhol used the wallpaper idea too at a show in 1966. He repeated a screen print of a cow.



A work of art by Yayoi Kusama

3. Kusama's obsession with polka dots is the result of hallucinations she has experienced since she was a kid


Kusama started seeing a psychiatrist when she was 10 years old. The reason was that she kept having visions of dots, nets and violet flowers that covered everything that she saw. In an interview with The Guardian‘s Justin McCurry, Kusama said: "I call them my repetitive vision. I still see them. [They] cover the canvas and grow on to the floor, the ceiling, chairs and tables. Then the polka dots move to the body, on to my clothes and into my spirit. It is an obsession." Kusama‘s psychiatrist encouraged her to develop as an artist.



An art installation by Yayoi Kusama

4. Sex was an important theme in Kusama's work, yet, she thinks of herself as asexual


Kusama said that people often think she must be crazy about sex. Yet, she makes sexual objects because they horrify her. A part of the issue might be the fact that Kusama‘s mother used to send her to spy on her father having affairs. Eventually, he left his family to be with a geisha in Tokyo. Kusama considered the trauma to be the cause for her aforementioned hallucinations.



An art installation by Yayoi Kusama

5. She is the highest selling living female artist in the World


In 1959 her paintings sold for $200 each. Yet, in 2014, one of her works was sold for $7.1 million. If you asked us, that’s absolutely crazy.

"My life is a dot lost among thousands of other dots." – Yayoi Kusama


An art installation by Yayoi Kusama