Yayoi Kusama - 20th C. & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session New York Wednesday, November 13, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Kodama Gallery, Tokyo
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    "I would cover a canvas with nets, then continue painting them on the table, on the floor, and finally on my own body. As I repeated this process over and over again, the nets began to expand to infinity." Yayoi Kusama

    Painted in 2001, Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Nets are an exquisite example of the eponymous series that the artist has been pursuing since the late 1950s. While intimate in size, the pairs pulsates with an undeniable force, expanding beyond the confines of the canvas edges: lines interweave in and out to form fine nets that delicately float atop the respective black and white canvases with an almost three-dimensional quality. Kusama typically paints works such as the present ones in an almost transcendental state, whereby the act of obsessively painting offers respite from her lifelong psychosomatic anxiety. Foreground and background, positive and negative space fuse into one ever-expanding network. Repetition here does not empty the canvas of meaning, rather it imbues it with a sense of infinity as two-dimensional space is obliterated. As Kusama indeed noted of her act of “self-obliteration” through art: “my self was eliminated, and I had returned and been reduced to the infinity of eternal time and the absolute of space. This was not an allusion but reality itself” (Yayoi Kusama, quoted in Yayoi Kusama, New York, 2000, p. 36).

    The net is indisputably the most iconic motif in Kusama’s oeuvre, and emerged in her practice after moving from Tokyo to New York in 1958. Confronted by the then dominant movement of Abstract Expressionism, Kusama pursued a highly individualistic and influential aesthetic that was simultaneously informed by her academic training in Japanese nihonga painting, the rhythm of Downtown New York City and, importantly, her own psychology. While paralleling concurrent minimalist tendencies in art on either side of the Atlantic, Kusama’s pictorial idiom drew from the depths of her psyche; the nets figuring as painterly manifestations of the hallucinatory visions accompanying her since childhood.

    The present works exemplify Kusama’s over four decades long investigation of the Infinity Net motif, whose visceral impact none other than Donald Judd perfectly described when stating, “The effect is both complex and simple…There is a remarkable variety of configuration and expression from point to point across the surface; the small curves coalesce into longer arcs, swell or shift slightly, or form amorphous patterns or partial vertical bands…The total quality suggests an analogy to a large, fragile, but vigorously carved grill or to a massive, solid lace” (Donald Judd, “Reviews and Previews: New Names This Month – Yayoi Kusama”, ArtNews, vol. 58, no. 6, October 1959, p. 17).

  • 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

Property from an Important West Coast Collector


Two works: (i) Infinity Nets (S.I.T); (ii) Infinity Nets (UIT)

(i) signed, titled, inscribed and dated “Yayoi Kusama 2001 Infinity Nets (S.I.T)”
(ii) signed, titled, inscribed and dated “Yayoi Kusama 2001 Infinity Nets (UIT)”

acrylic on canvas
each 21 x 18 in. (53.3 x 45.7 cm.)
Painted in 2001, these works will be accompanied by a registration card issued by YAYOI KUSAMA Inc.

$300,000 - 400,000 

Sold for $312,500

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
New York
+1 212 940 1261

20th C. & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

New York Auction 13 November 2019