Yayoi Kusama - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale Hong Kong Saturday, May 25, 2019 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Private Collection, Tokyo
    Mainichi Auction, Tokyo, 21 October 2017, Lot 221
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Captive Doll is an exceedingly rare and sentimental work from the year 1988, produced nearly two decades after Yayoi Kusama returned to her native Japan. Created in plastic and metal, and painted entirely in fuchsia, the present work features a seated, hatted doll surrounded by amorphous, bird-like shapes. Captive Doll was created more than a decade after the artist’s voluntary hospitalisation upon returning to Japan in the late seventies: a move which precipitated a change in the artist’s approach to art creation. Adjusting to her new living quarters and setting up a new studio within the medical faculty, Kusama set to work, returning to sculpture making by hand, creating some small objects, others which could be combined to become largescale pieces. It was during this time that the artist produced stuffed fabric works painstakingly sewn together by hand, some encased in boxes, and later moving on to works such as the present lot. The incorporation of boxes moreover--and in the present case a birdcage—immediately calls to mind Kusama drawing inspiration from her dear late friend Joseph Cornell, a person to whom she paid homage upon her return to Japan in the late seventies. It is also curious to note the interrelationship between Kusama’s soft sculptures and the doll featured in Captive Doll—a doll being a figurine typically ‘stuffed’, the artist has rendered hers deliberately rigid, encased in a cage. It is easy to draw a self-referential conclusion when approaching this piece: a thinly veiled symbol for the contained environment the artist newly found herself in perhaps, but more so a fervent jolt of positivity and new life as captured by the bright pastel hue of Captive Doll—a colour which undoubtedly matched the jubilant years leading to Kusama’s shot to stardom in the years to follow.

  • 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


Captive Doll

signed, titled and dated 'YAYOI KUSAMA 1988 "Captive Doll [in Japanese]"' on the underside
mixed media
36 x 22 x 28 cm. (14 1/8 x 8 5/8 x 11 in.)
Executed in 1988, this work is accompanied by a registration card issued by the artist's studio.

HK$600,000 - 800,000 

Contact Specialist
Isaure de Viel Castel
Head of Department, 20th Century & Contemporary Art

Charlotte Raybaud
Head of Day Sale, 20th Century & Contemporary Art

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 26 May 2019