Yayoi Kusama essay

Document Type:Research Paper

Subject Area:Arts

Document 1

Although born and raised in Japan, she immigrated into New York in 1958 and came to the limelight in the late sixties after organizing a series of Happenings where nude participants had their bodies painted with polka dots of bright colors. Kusama has been described as rugged, strong and possessing creative energy as well as artistic achievement. Hardly do artists express directly their psychological complexes. However, she uses her fears and complexes as subjects through creation and obliteration1. This paper seeks delves into her works and how they have either won the admiration, fascinated or shocked many people. Being Creative with the Naked Body Kusama has an aversion to sex which arose from the environment and experiences of her formative years. Born in 1929, Kusama’s father had many extramarital affairs which her mother often sent her to spy. This made her develop a lifelong contempt for the male body, the phallus and sexuality in general. The female organ repulsed her as well. It is for this reason that she uses Psychosomatic Art to create a new self and overcome the things she finds repulsive through by making them repeatedly. For this reason, she made men and women in her Happenings to take off their clothes and have their naked bodies painted. However, she maintains that while she is the creator and choreographer, she never participated. During her childhood, she also started having hallucinations which she described as dense field of dots. She also saw flowers and patterns in fabrics that would engulf her.

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It is through that process that she became obsessed with polka dots and carried this through to her artistic career2. The mere thought of being entered by anything long and ugly like a phallus terrifies her and that’s why she makes so many of them. Moreover, the thought of consuming macaroni spat from machinery gives her a sense of disgust and loathing thus she likes making sculptures of macaroni. She does these continually until she is buried in the process, and this she calls ‘obliteration. ’3 To find self-obliteration, Kusama for example has her entire body covered with polka dots and then has the entire background as well covered with polka dots. This way the form of her body is assimilated by the dots and disappears. To get a more vivid experience and to become one with the work, people were allowed to walk through the phallus meadow barefoot.

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As viewers walked through this infinite wonderland, where an aggregation of sexual symbols were turned humorously into a polka dotted field, this miraculous exhibition captured their imaginations by exorcising sexual sickness in the broad daylight. Infinity Mirror Net painting Yayoi Kusama produced a series of paintings during the early years of her stay in New York called ‘Net Painting. ’ The starting point of her professional career are marked by these paintings and they have gone ahead and accompanied her for the rest of her life. Net painting is the number one prototypical product of the obsessional art she pursued. Because of the explicit nature of the Happenings, most articles about her in the media delved into speculations about her private life7. Such analyses portrayed her as having loose morals but she describes herself as a person who has no sex and has no interest in drugs.

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The Gulf between New York and Japan Yayoi Kusama had fifteen fruitful years in New York where through her paintings, sculptures and Happenings, she was able to firmly position herself as a force to reckon with in the world of avant-garde art. The media reported on what she did thus disseminating her message worldwide. She used any means possible to capture her illusory images in some kind of framework to transform her ideologies into art for her time. She showcased Infinity Flower Petals, Shooting Stars, Self-Obliteration, Mirror Room as well as an installation of giant pumpkins. So good were her exhibitions that the Japanese Commissioner Professor Akira wrote an essay hailing her achievement as unique and wide ranging. They reflected both political and social realities from a formalist and feminist perspectives.

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The exhibition made it clear that her works provided an image of a world which can only be said to be mysterious, intensely fascinating and disquieting. According to the critic Atsushi Tanikawa, an independent and incorrigibly unrestrained artist that is Kusama had been chosen as Japan’s representative at the fete. In some collages, critics found a very thin line between artwork and self-promotion. An example is a collage where she lay on her stomach nude with only high heels and her body covered with polka dots known as Accumulation #2 (1962). The sensuality of Kusama’s nude body is ironicised by these dots. Moreover, such images could also be interpreted with regard to the contemporaneous images of nudity in pop art only that in her works, she is both the creator and the artist.

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To further cement her art-world persona, she would appear at art openings wearing self-designed kimonos with a number of bizarre colors and fabrics10. eblib. com/choice/publicfullrecord. aspx?p=3339526. Griselda, Pollock. Psychoanalysis and the image: transdisciplinary perspectives. Sue-Ellen, Case, Philip Brett, and Susan L. Foster. Decomposition:post-disciplinary performance. Bloomington. Indiana Univ.

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