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Yayoi Kusama designs London tube map

Now you (and 14,999,999 others) can have an artwork by the Japanese artist in your pocket
Yayoi Kusama, Polka Dots Festival in London (December 2011)


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To coincide with her retrospective this February (February 9 - June 5, 2012) at Tate Modern, Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama has designed the cover for the latest London Pocket Tube Map. Commissioned by Art on the Underground, Kusama's map is the 15th in a series designed by artists from all over the world it's available from London Underground stations from Monday, December 12. She has called her cover Polka Dots Festival. Fifteen million of the Kusama maps will be printed.

"The dots are spreading out over the earth and beyond, onto the infinite great universe," Kusama says. "Like these dots, London is a progressive and ever changing force with a spectrum of colours that echo a vibrancy of life and how brilliantly it shines!"

Notorious for her flamboyant use of colour as much as the compulsive repetition she applies to her work, Kusama creates mirrored sculptures and abstract paintings which frequently use spots. Many of her works are a personal exploration into obsession, meditation and space. Reach Up to the Universe, Dotted Pumpkin (2010) for instance, is created in the shape of a pumpkin, which she has described as a sort of alter ego.

Yayoi Kusama, <em>Reach Up to the Universe, Dotted Pumpkin</em> (2010)

Yayoi Kusama, Reach Up to the Universe, Dotted Pumpkin (2010)

Kusama joins a strong list of artists whose work has adorned Pocket Tube Map covers since 2004. The designs are on their way to becoming as synonymous with the London Underground as Harry Beck's famous 1931 schematic itself. In November 2005 David Shrigley jumbled the tube lines up into a scramble ball; in 2007 a portrait of John Hough, Transport for London's longest serving member of staff (542 months of service) was drawn by 2004 Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller for the cover and, most recently, Michael Landy inscribed the tube lines on the palm of his hand. In May 2010, Barbara Kruger designed a version of the map itself replacing the station names with emotions she associated with each stop on the map. 

Click through the gallery to see how each artist has interpreted the cover of the Pocket Tube Map over the last 7 years.

Read more about Yayoi Kusama:

Kusama: 'I promised myself I'd conquer the world'

The fantastical world of Yayoi Kusama

To infinity and beyond with Yayoi Kusama

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Yayoi Kusama

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