Yayoi Kusama - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in association with Yongle Hong Kong Tuesday, November 29, 2022 | Phillips

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  • “My art was made to change people’s minds. I hope that it can make the world more peaceful.”
    — Yayoi Kusama

    Created in 1999, the year after Yayoi Kusama’s major landmark retrospective Love Forever: Yayoi Kusama, 1958-1969 i, Heart is an exemplary box sculpture piece coming from her varied oeuvre. Drawing links to the artist’s long-time friend Joseph Cornell’s famous box artworks — the latter’s having been described as ‘reliquaries that contain sacred objects’ ii —the present work is Kusama’s own rendition, which houses candy-cane-coloured phallic protrusions.


    The pillowy priapic forms recall Kusama’s hand-sewn Accumulations initiated in 1962: ‘I began making penises in order to heal my feelings of disgust toward sex. Reproducing the objects, again and again, was my way of conquering the fear. It was a kind of self-therapy, to which I gave the name “Psychosomatic Art”.’ iii Tightly encased, such organic forms bulge out of variated configurations including flowerpots, incubators or cradles, each tendril resembling embryos, stamens, or sprouting vines.


    “Accumulation is the result of my obsession and that philosophy is the main theme of my art.”
    — Yayoi Kusama


    Potent allusions for flourishing life and new beginnings, the soft sculptures can be taken singularly or collectively, each jostling for survival within their constricting box frames. Heart—with its evocation of the most vital human organ, all the more powerfully executed in a bright red hue—quite literally pulsates with vitality, its stripey tentacles beckoning the viewer into a hypnotically meditative experience that stimulates introspection and transcendence.


    Works from Kusama’s box series can be found in the collections of museums including the Niigata City Art Museum and the Matsumoto City Museum of Art, amongst others. The artist’s largest retrospective in Asia, Yayoi Kusma: 1945 to Now, is currently on view at the M+ Museum in Hong Kong until 14 May 2023.



    Love Forever: Yayoi Kusama, 1958-1969 was exhibited at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles in 1998, and subsequently travelled to the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, 1998–1999. 

    ii Alexandra Cortesi, ‘Joseph Cornell’, ARTFORUM, April 1966, online 

    iii Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Net: The Autobiography of Yayoi Kusama, London, 2015  

    • Provenance

      MOMA Contemporary, Fukuoka
      Private Collection, Japan
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • 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 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.

      View More Works



signed, titled and dated ‘”HEART” [in English and Japanese] YAYOI KUSAMA 1999’ on the underside
mixed media
29.9 x 22.5 x 9.3 cm. (11 3/4 x 8 7/8 x 3 5/8 in.)
Executed in 1999, this work is accompanied by a registration card issued by the artist's studio.

Full Cataloguing

HK$1,000,000 - 2,000,000 

Sold for HK$1,134,000

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+852 2318 2027

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in association with Yongle

Hong Kong Auction 30 November 2022