Yayoi Kusama - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale Hong Kong Thursday, July 9, 2020 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Private Collection, Japan
    Private Collection, Tokyo
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present lot is a stark manifestation of Kusama’s iconic quote “if it weren’t for art, I would have killed myself a long time ago”, and produced a mere two years after her self-admittance to the Seiwa Hosptial for the Mentally Ill. Infinity Nets exemplifies the Japanese artist’s most iconic motif, in which she transposes her life-long psychosis on canvas in the form of an undulating web of interconnected lines. A mesmerising body of works she has frequently revisited over a period of fifty years under the concept of self-obliteration, the Infinity Nets series is a cornerstone of the artist’s formal explorations and overall vision, setting the foundations for her most significant works and installations.

    Kusama first started her Infinity Nets series in New York in 1958 in the form of a web of white lines and loops over a monochromatic white background. The series started as the artist’s approximation of her hallucinations suffered since childhood, where she would envision her entire surroundings covered in undulating patterns. During such moments of psychological unrest, Kusama described finding herself engulfed by rhythmic nets of dots and semicircles, and feeling compelled to replicate the structure’s overwhelming cellular formations on material support. The kaleidoscopic framework enveloping her body would then extend from her thoughts and onto the canvas. ‘As I repeated this process over and over again, the nets began to expand to infinity,’ the artist declared, ‘I forgot about myself as they enveloped me, clinging to my arms and legs and clothes and filling the entire room’ (Yayoi Kusama, quoted in Marie Laurberg, ‘Deep Surfaces’, Yayoi Kusama In Infinity, Humblebaek, 2015, p. 12). It was this endless reach and repetition of this motif which sparked Kusama’s fixation on the concept of self-obliteration – to lose herself and subsume her individual ego within the ‘infinite,’ in turn spurring the obsessive production of Infinity Nets paintings.

    With a pitch black rhythmic lattice rendered over a white background, the present painting marks a key point in the evolution of Kusama’s painting over three decades towards the cathartic exploration of her own psyche. As exemplified by Infinity Nets, her uneven impasto present in earlier net paintings has shifted to flatter, less visible brushstrokes, conveying an avant-garde graphical approach that further highlights her obsession with the theme of interconnectivity, and the integration with ones environment through self-obliteration. As with other Infinity Nets painted during this time, the present lot introduces more dynamism and depth through a tessellation of intersecting lines, each fluctuating in size and thickness. The result is a delicate, yet desolate balance of white and black tones – creating the illusion of a net floating upon dark waves, or the topographical ebb and flow of a landscape. This elegant visual effect created through simple repetition of form and colour is also a quality attributed to the artist’s formal training in traditional Japanese Nihonga painting, drawing its viewer into Kusama’s highly personal and immersive, ever-changing psychological environment.

    Archetypal of this series, Infinity Nets conveys the inextricable relationship between Kusama’s signature style and the psychotic struggles pervading her own life. In doing so, the work beautifully presents Kusama’s neurosis and epitomises the artist’s compulsive need to self-obliterate through intense, ritualistic repetition.

  • Artist Biography

    Yayoi Kusama


    Named "the world's most popular artist" in 2015, it's not hard to see why Yayoi Kusama continues to dazzle contemporary art audiences globally. From her signature polka dots—"fabulous," she calls them—to her mirror-and-light Infinity Rooms, Kusama's multi-dimensional practice of making art elevates the experience of immersion. To neatly pin an artistic movement onto Kusama would be for naught: She melds and transcends the aesthetics and theories of many late twentieth century movements, including Pop Art and Minimalism, without ever taking a singular path.


    As an nonagenarian who still lives in Tokyo and steadfastly paints in her studio every day, Kusama honed her punchy cosmic style in New York City in the 1960s. During this period, she staged avant-garde happenings, which eventually thrust her onto the international stage with a series of groundbreaking exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in the 1980s and the 45th Venice Biennale in 1993. She continues to churn out paintings and installations at inspiring speed, exhibiting internationally in nearly every corner of the globe, and maintains a commanding presence on the primary market and at auction.

    View More Works


Infinity Nets

c. 1979
signed, titled and dated 'Yayoi Kusama 1962 "Infinity Nets"' on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
60.5 x 60.5 cm. (23 7/8 x 23 7/8 in.)
Executed circa 1979, this work is accompanied by a registration card issued by the Yayoi Kusama studio.

HK$2,500,000 - 3,500,000 

Sold for HK$3,437,500

Contact Specialist
Danielle So
Associate Specialist, Head of Day Sale

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 9 July 2020