Infinity Nets

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  • Condition Report

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection
    Mainichi Auction, Tokyo, 21 April 2018, Lot 203
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Painted amidst a period of major retrospectives cementing Yayoi Kusama’s unique place within the context of the contemporary art canon in Japan and New York in the 90’s, 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 ruby red background, the present painting marks a key point in the evolution of Kusama’s painting over three decades towards incorporating more colour and organic imagery. As exemplified by Infinity Nets, uneven impasto present in earlier net paintings shifted to flatter, less visible brushstrokes, conveying an avant-garde graphical approach that further highlighted her obsession with the theme of interconnectedness, 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 the variation of the sizes and thickness of the lines composing her webs. This results in delicate gradients between two contrasting shades, creating a visual effect of a net afloat on crimson waters, 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.

  • Catalogue Essay

    草間彌生在90年代舉辦的主要回顧展為她奠定了在日本和紐約的當代藝術領域獨特地位,創作於那一時期背景下的《無限之網》,是這位日本藝術家最具標誌性的主題代表作,畫中她將自己一生的精神混亂狀態以互相交織的線條所形成的起伏之網的形式,轉移至畫布上。在過去五十年的時間裡,她不斷憑藉自我消融的概念,重新回到她那令人著迷的作品中,《無限之網》系列是藝術家在形式上的探索和整體視野的基石,為她最重要的作品和裝置奠定了基礎。

    草間彌生最初於1958年在紐約開始,在單純白色的背景上以白色線條和環狀的形式開始她《無限之網》的創作。該系列始於藝術家對自童年時代起便困擾她的幻覺之描繪,在那裡她設想自身周遭都被起伏的圖案所覆蓋。在這種心理焦慮的時刻,草間彌生描述自己被由點和半圓組成的、充滿節奏之網所吞噬,一種強迫感促使她以物質支持的形式去複製那個令人窒息的蜂窩狀結構。那個包裹她身體的、萬花筒式的架構隨後從她的思想延伸到了畫布上。「隨著我不斷去重複這個過程,這個網開始擴張直到無限,」藝術家表示,「當它們包裹著我,緊緊抓住在我的手臂、腿和衣服,直至佈滿了整個房間的時候,我忘記了自己」(草間彌生,摘自瑪麗·勞爾伯格(Marie Laurberg),《深層的平面》,《無限之中的草間彌生》,胡姆勒拜克,2015年,第12頁)。正是對這個主題無窮無盡的延伸和重複激發了草間彌生對自我消融概念的執迷——放開她自己,讓她個人的自我歸入「無限」,從而促使了她癡迷地創作《無限之網》繪畫作品。

    以華麗的紅寶石色為背景鋪陳深黑色,該畫作代表了草間彌生在繪畫具有節奏感之單色調框架的三十年裡,其轉型的巔峰之作。到了這個時候,草間彌生在1990年代所創作的《無限之網》在朝著融入更多色彩和有機圖像的演變中,已經和她最初的網有著顯著的不同。正如《無限之網》所展示的,早年網的繪畫中出現的不平整之厚塗,已轉向更平、更不明顯的筆觸,傳遞了一種前衛的圖像處理,來進一步凸顯她對相互交纏,以及通過自我毀滅來融入所處的環境這一主題的迷戀。正如其他在這個時期創作的《無限之網》一樣,本拍品通過不同的大小和構成網的線條之不同粗細,呈現更多的活力和深度。這使兩種對比陰影之間產生微妙的漸變,創造出深紅色水域之上漂浮著一張張網的視覺效果,或是高低錯落的地理風貌。這一通過簡單地重複形式和色彩所創造的優雅視覺效果,歸功於藝術家在傳統的日本畫( Nihonga)方面的正式訓練,吸引觀者進入草間彌生那高度個人化和沈浸式的、不斷變幻的心理環境之中。

    作為這一系列的典型之作,《無限之網》傳達了草間彌生的標誌性風格與滲透著她自己生命與精神鬥爭之間,有著密不可分的關係。通過這種方式,這件作品完美地呈現了草間彌生的精神症,並體現了藝術家對通過強烈、儀式性的重複來實現自我消融的強迫性需求。

  • 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 Private Asian Collection

Infinity Nets

1990
signed, titled and dated 'Yayoi Kusama 1990 "Infinity Nets [in Kanji]"' on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
72.7 x 60.6 cm. (28 5/8 x 23 7/8 in.)
Painted in 1990, this work is accompanied by a registration card issued by the Yayoi Kusama studio.

Estimate
HK$4,800,000 - 6,800,000 
€558,000-790,000
$615,000-872,000

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Danielle So
Associate Specialist, Head of Day Sale

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 25 November 2019