Six Guests

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  • Condition Report

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection
    Sotheby's S|2 Gallery, Hong Kong
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2012

  • Exhibited

    Tokyo, Fuji Television Gallery, Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Explosion, 6-28 June 1986, n.p. (illustrated)
    Tokyo, The National Museum of Modern Art; Kyoto, The National Museum of Modern Art, Yayoi Kusama: Eternity Modernity; then traveled as Eight Places for Burning Soul, Hiroshima City, Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art; then traveled as Yayoi Kusama: Sailing the Sea of Infinity, Kumamoto, Contemporary Art Museum; then traveled as Yayoi Kusama: The Place for My Soul, Matsumoto, Matsumoto City Museum of Art, 26 October 2004 - 10 October 2005, no. 112, p. 181 (illustrated)
    Hong Kong, Sotheby's S|2 Gallery, Yayoi Kusama: Hong Kong Blooms in My Mind, 19-31 May 2012, pl. 16, pp. 46-47

  • Literature

    Jiritsu Shobo, Between Heaven and Earth, Tokyo, 1988 (illustrated, book cover)
    Thomas Frick, YAYOI KUSAMA: NEW YORK/TOKYO - LOVE FOREVER: YAYOI KUSAMA, 1958-1968, Los Angeles, 1998, p. 77 (illustrated on a book cover)
    Bijutsu Shuppan-Sha, Yayoi Kusama: Eternity-Modernity, Tokyo, 2005, p.181 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    The sculptural Accumulations created by Kusama find their roots in the very early years of her creative career, whilst she was living in New York. To understand them means taking a deep dive into the artist's psyche and neuroses, for they stand at the crossroads between the artist’s desire for self-obliteration and self-glorification. They represent the conversion of her Infinity Net paintings into three-dimensional sculptures in which she can pose, merge, or simply disappear. The conscious willingness to become part of a work, or to be a work herself, is an extrapolation of the performances which were a central component of her artistic practice at the time.

    It was in September 1961 that Yayoi Kusama, with help from Donald Judd, her neighbor and close friend, began sewing and stuffing hundreds of small canvas sacks full of cotton. At the time, she had been in New York for three years and had just moved to a loft in East 19th street. She finished her first Accumulations in 1963. These were pieces of furniture, usually cast-offs scavenged from the streets, that she covered with protuberances of stuffed cloth. Part of the fascination they exercise upon the viewer derives from an overabundant, repetitive profusion that also characterised the Infinity Net paintings. The immersive environment of the Accumulations sculptures provided a necessary remedy to soothe her anxieties. Often posing with her creations in photographs, Kusama dressed to blend in with her works, simulating a merging with the obsessive and repetitive matrix of her art.

    Returning permanently to Japan in 1973 and taking up residence in a private mental hospital where she has lived ever since, depressed and profoundly affected by the death of Joseph Cornell, Kusama revisited many of the themes she had been developing in New York. A lot of the Accumulations from the early 1980s are covered in a silver coat of paint as if they had been found frozen in a post-apocalyptic world. Kusama slathered silver paint over entire installations of phallus-festooned furniture and clothing as well as crammed segmented boxes. Leaving no uncertainty as to the rationale behind this, her works from this period possess eerily morbid titles, such as Walking on the Sea of Death (1981), Ceremony for Suicide and Desire for Death in the World of Silver. However, at the exact same time, in 1981, she started working on sets of colourful fabric-stuffed furniture showing tables and chairs arranged in a dining room setting, or sofa and armchairs fit for a psychedelic living room. Although the fabrics used in these sets comprise a vivid array of blues, reds and greens, the title of Farewell Supper (held in the collection of the Chiba City Museum of Art, Japan) leaves no doubt that Kusama is still deeply affected by dark thoughts. Not to be overlooked is the sexual component of these sculptures, evident in the phallic protuberances which have engulfed the piece of furniture and the box serving as a host. These Accumulations acted as a form of catharsis for the artist, who described them as ‘psycho-somatic work’ undertaken to conquer her fear of the phallus. In her 2002 autobiography Infinity Net she recalls: “I began making penises in order to heal my feeling of disgust towards sex… It was a kind of self-therapy. I was terrified of sex and of the phallus.” (quoted by Chris Kraus, ‘Accumulations’, Kusama, New York, 2012, p. 108).

    Towards the middle of the decade however, Kusama’s spirits had lifted and, emerging from this dark period, she continued her explorations using the sculptural Accumulations. In Six Guests, executed in 1986, Kusama’s sculptures are much more poetic than psychologically sinister. Here phallic shapes still blanket the objects, but no longer pose a menace. Surrounded by bowls, a jug, flowers and a pineapple, Kusama’s creations are brought into the safe, kitsch-infused realm of quotidian femininity. With Six Guests Kusama defiantly seizes control of her discourse, and the phallus is no longer an object of fear that dominates the narrative of the work, but is instead wholly contained and controlled by the feminine. The choice of scarlet red pigment, which dots the shapes and stains their fibrous cushioning, allude to female menstruation and loss of virginity. Kusama also presents the image of a matriarchal family dinner, with six guests gathered around a flower-laden table. A direct allusion to her own childhood, Kusama parents owned a seed farm and flowers became a constant source of inspiration throughout her career. But they also brought back memories of the abuse suffered at the hands of her own mother as a child and teenager. Exactly two years before the creation of Six Guests, Kusama’s mother Shigeru had passed away and the artist said of this tragic event: “Born with hair-trigger temper, my mother also had a tendency to hysteria that was only exacerbated by my father’s flamboyant womanizing. Sometimes when she found me painting she would overturn the desk or rip up the pictures and throw them away. Inwardly I was always at war with her.” (the artist quoted in Kusama, Rizzoli, New York, 2012, p. 297). But it is precisely with this work that Kusama regains control of her own destiny, personality and femininity - exactly in the same way Niki de Saint-Phalle shot pouches of pigment attached to plaster reliefs (the Tirs), an act of pure violence usually associated with men which proved the artist to be one of the most important feminist artists in France in the 1960s.

    Extremely personal, cathartic and feminist, Six Guests is an important work for understanding the psyche at work behind the creation of the most fascinating body of works of the 20th century. “Such energy! (…) I felt once again overwhelmed as the polka-dotted forms with their vivid colours and the phallus-shaped objects spread and proliferated endlessly before me. This exhibition is indeed a monument to the dazzling victory of one lone woman who has battled mental illness all her life and managed to transform that bitter struggle into magnificent art.” Akira Asada, The Victory of Yayoi Kusama, Nami, July 1999.

  • Catalogue Essay

    草間彌生的雕塑作品《積累》系列,源自她創作生涯早期;生活在紐約之時期。要理解它們,就意味著要深入到藝術家的心理和精神層面,因為它們處於藝術家對自我消融和自我歌頌的渴望之間的十字路口。它們代表了她將《無限之網》繪畫作品向三維雕塑的轉換,而她可以在其中擺出姿勢、融合,或乾脆消失。有意識地自願成為作品的一部分,或者讓自己成為一件作品,可以推斷出,表演是她當時藝術實踐的核心成分。

    1961年9月,草間彌生在鄰居和好友唐納德·賈德的幫助下,開始縫製數百個小帆布袋,並將它們用棉花塞滿。當時,她已經在紐約生活了三年,且剛搬進東19街的一所倉庫公寓中。她於1963年完成了自己的第一件《積累》作品。她將街上撿回來的廢棄物,裹上突起的填充布料,製成一件件傢俱。它們使觀者著迷的一部分原因來自它們不盡其數、繁複繽紛,而《無限之網》的繪畫中也有著同樣的特質。《積累》系列雕塑的沈浸式環境為她提供了一劑緩解焦慮的必需靈藥。經常與她的作品擺拍合影,草間彌生將自己打扮得與作品融為一體,演繹自己與她那強迫性和無限重複的藝術宇宙合而為一。

    她於1973年回到日本定居後,住進一家私人精神病院,並在此後一直生活於此。出於抑鬱,以及約瑟夫·康奈爾的去世對她造成的深刻影響,草間開始重新審視在紐約時便在發展的許多主題。 在1980年代初創作的的許多《積累》雕塑都被塗上了一層銀色的顏料,彷彿它們是在世界末日中被結凍成冰一樣。草間彌生將做成陰莖狀的傢俱和衣服,以及擠得滿滿的小盒子所組成的整個裝置,都塗上一層銀色顏料。毫無邏輯根據可言,她這一時期的作品有著陰森病態的標題,例如《行走死亡之海》(1981)、《自殺儀式》、《在白銀世界中渴望死亡》。然而,恰好在同一時期,於1981年,她開始製作彩色填充織物家具,這些家具中有佈置在一個飯廳佈局中的桌子和椅子,或者是適合一個迷幻的客廳之沙發和扶手椅。儘管這些佈景中使用的面料包括了大量鮮豔的藍色、紅色和綠色,但作品《告別晚餐》(日本千葉市美術館收藏)的名稱無疑展露了草間彌生仍然深受著陰暗思緒的影響。 性的成分在這些雕塑中不容忽視,從吞沒家具和盒子的陰莖突起中可以明顯看出它作為主體的角色。這些《積累》雕塑對藝術家來說是一種情感宣洩的形式,她把它們描述為「變態軀體作品」,旨在幫助她克服對陰莖的恐懼。她在2002年的自傳《無限的網》 中回憶道:「我為了治癒自己對性的厭惡而開始製作陰莖...這類似自我療法。我極其恐懼性和陰莖。」(引自克里斯•克劳斯( Chris Kraus),《積累》,《草間彌生》,紐約,2012年,第108頁)。

    到了1980年代中期,草間的精神有所振奮,從這個黑暗時期抽離之後,她繼續使用雕塑《積累》來進行她的探索。在創作於1986年的《六人之客》中,草間的雕塑,比起心理上陰鬱,變得更具有詩意。在這裡,陰莖的形狀仍籠罩著物件,但不再構成威脅。被碗、水罐、鮮花以及鳯梨等水果所包圍著,草間彌生的創作被帶進安全、充滿女性日常生活的世界裏。通過《六人之客》,草間彌生挑釁式地取得了她的話語權,而陰莖也不再是主導她作品敘事的恐懼對象,而是完全被女性所包容和控制。選擇用猩紅色的色調去點綴形狀和在纖維靠墊上留下紅顏料,暗示著女性的月事和失去童貞。草間還呈現了六位客人聚集在擺滿鮮花水果桌子旁的母系家庭晚餐之意象。直接暗示自己的童年,父母曾經營一個苗種農場,而鮮花也一直是她職業生涯中的一個靈感源泉。但是這些也帶回了她童年和少年時期被自己的母親虐待的記憶。在創作《六人之客》整整兩年前,草間彌生的母親茂(Shigeru)去世了,藝術家談起這件慘痛的事情:「生來脾氣火爆,我的母親有著歇斯底里的傾向,而這更因父親的風流浪蕩而加劇。有時當她發現我在畫畫,她就掀翻桌子,或把畫撕爛再丟出去。我的內心一直在與她交戰。」(藝術家引自《草間彌生》,Rizzoli,紐約,2012年,第297頁)。但正是通過這件作品,草間彌生重新獲得對自己命運、個性和女性本質的掌控——就像妮基·聖法爾射擊被熟石膏覆蓋的顏料袋一樣(「射擊藝術」),這通常與男性聯想在一起的純暴力行為,結果證明了她是1960年代法國最重要的女權主義藝術家之一。

    極其個人化、宣洩性和女性主義,《六人之客》是一件讓人們了解二十世紀最具魅力的作品,創作背後所蘊含的心理之重要作品。「如此的能量!(…)當色彩鮮豔的波點形和陰莖狀的物體在我眼前延展和無限激增,我再次感到被淹沒。這個展覽確實是一場光輝耀眼的勝利豐碑,讚頌著一個獨自孤身的女人終其一生在與精神疾病作戰,並且最終將那種痛苦的掙扎轉變為宏偉的藝術。」(浅田彰,《草間彌生的勝利》,南怡島,1999年7月)。

  • Artist Bio

    Yayoi Kusama

    Japanese • 1929

    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 octogenarian who still lives—somewhat famously—in a psychiatric institution in Tokyo and steadfastly paints in her immaculate 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. 

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Property from a Distinguished Asian Collection

Six Guests

1986
signed, titled and dated 'Yayoi Kusama [in Kanji and English] "SIX GUESTS [in Kanji and English] 1986' on the underside of the table; further signed and titled '"SIX GUESTS [in Kanji and English]" Yayoi Kusama [in Kanji and English]' on the underside of five chairs
wood, canvas, spray paint, fibre and mixed media
Table: 113 x 185 x 130 cm. (44 1/2 x 72 7/8 x 51 1/8 in.)
Chair: 83 x 65 x 55 cm. (32 5/8 x 25 5/8 x 21 5/8 in.)

Executed in 1986, this work is accompanied by a registration card issued by the artist's company.

Estimate
HK$7,000,000 - 9,000,000 
€805,000-1,030,000
$897,000-1,150,000

Place Advance Bid
Contact Specialist
Charlotte Raybaud
Head of Evening Sale, 20th Century & Contemporary Art

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 24 November 2019