Yayoi Kusama


A comprehensive overview of the visionary work of the Japanese artist.


Survey by Laura Hoptman, Interview by Akira Tatehata, Focus by Udo Kultermann, Artist's Choice by Ishikawa Takuboki, Writings by Yayoi Kusama


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About the book
Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama (b.1929) has pursued her principal themes of infinity, self-representation, sexuality and compulsive repetition since she took the New York art world by storm in the late 1950s with her 'Infinity Nets': a series of heroically-scaled paintings covered in endlessly repetitive net-like patterns, which won the admiration of artists ranging from Barnett Newman to the discriminating Donald Judd. In Kusama's installations and sculptures she compulsively covers every surface, either in polka dots (Infinity Mirror Room, 1965), mirrors (Endless Love Show, 1966) or phallus-like protrusions (Violet Obsession, 1994).

This book signifies the first ever monograph on the astounding 40-year career of this established, deeply daring and tirelessly experimental artist, who represented Japan at the Venice Biennale in 1993. It was published to coincide with an exhibition in 2000 at the Serpentine Gallery.
Overall, Kusama is internationally respected for her soft sculptures and psychedelic installations, through which she also explores themes of love and obsession throughout her work, in all its diversity: from her net-like pattern paintings begun in 1959, to her Pop-inspired love happenings in the 1960s, to installations whose every surface has been completed boundlessly by a complex but always distinct pattern.

A visionary whose work is unique in the panorama of post-war art, Kusama is known not only as an artist but also as a fashion designer, poet, novelist and film-maker -- all documented in this uniquely comprehensive monograph.

American art historian and Museum of Modern Art curator Laura Hoptman examines in her Survey the gradual transitions in the artist's work, from painting to performance to installation, in the context of her international artistic contemporaries. Japanes poet and critic Akira Tatehata discusses with the artist her own evolving relationship with her work and how it is received in Eastern and Western contexts. German-born art historian Udo Kultermann focuses on the artist's seminal installation work Driving Image (1959-64), which he exhibited in Essen, Germany, in 1966. For Artist's Choice, the artist has selected tanka poems by Takuboku Ishikawa (1886-1912), a renowned Japanese poet who, like Kusama, combined the expression of personal suffering with great formal innovations in his work.



In The Press

'This book is a fine collection of her influential and beautifully turbulent work.' (Creative Review)

'A handome monograph.' (Modern Painters)

'The boldest, best executed, and most far-reaching publishing project devoted to contemporary art. These books will revolutionize the way contemporary art is presented and written about.' (Artforum)

'The combination of intelligent analysis, personal insight, useful facts and plentiful pictures is a superb format invaluable for specialists but also interesting for casual readers, it makes these books a must for the library of anyone who cares about contemporary art.' (Time Out)

'A unique series of informative monographs on individual artists.' (The Sunday Times)

'Gives the reader the impression of a personal encounter with the artists. Apart from the writing which is lucid and illuminating, it is undoubtedly the wealth of lavish illustrations which makes looking at these books a satisfying entertainment.' (The Art Book)






About the author(s)

Laura Hoptman was co-curator of Yayoi Kusama's travelling 1998-9 retrospective exhibition 'Love Forever' and Assistant Curator in the Department of Drawing at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. An American art historian, Hoptman is one of the world's foremost experts on the work of Yayoi Kusama.

Akira Tatehata, a Japanese art critic and poet, is Professor at Tama Art University and Lecturer at Tokyo University. Tatehata was the Japanese commissioner for the Venice Biennale in 1993, the year Yayoi Kusama represented her country. He has known the artist and followed her work closely for many years.

Udo Kultermann is a German-born art historian and critic. Also a noted Professor of Architecture at the Washington University, Saint Louis (1986-94), Kultermann's books include The New Sculpture (1967) and The New Painting (1969). He curated Kusama's first presentation of her work in Germany, in 1996.



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