Yayoi Kusama - Contemporary Art Day Sale London Thursday, February 12, 2015 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Private Collection
    Claudio Poleschi Arte Contemporanea, Lucca

  • Catalogue Essay

    'In this universe, the moon, the sun, each and every star, my own life, your life, they are all a single polka dot among billions. I have love and awe towards all these things. I want to send my earnest wish of overcoming conflicts and terrors of the world, the wish of peace for the people.'
    - Yayoi Kusama

    Born in Japan in 1929, Yayoi Kusama has been at the forefront of the avant-garde for over half a century. Her instantly recognisable motifs of polka-dots and pumpkins explore themes of psychedelia, repetition, and obsessive patterning. Many of these images originate in her recording of the vivid hallucinations that she has experienced since early childhood: following a breakdown on her return from New York to Japan, in 1977 she was voluntarily admitted to the Seiwa Hospital for the Mentally Ill, where she has remained ever since. The botanical and organic forms that pervade her aesthetic also make reference to her family’s background as seedling merchants, infusing minimalist form with autobiographical significance.

    In one of her early literary works, Kusama writes that ‘a polka-dot has the form of the sun, which is a symbol of the energy of the whole world and our living life, and also the form of the moon, which is calm. Round, soft, colorful, senseless and unknowing. Polka-dots become movement ... Polka dots are a way to infinity.’ (Yayoi Kusama, Manhattan jisatsu misui joshuan [Manhattan Suicide Addict],Tokyo: Kosakuha, 1978). The present lot is an excellent example of the mysterious and dynamic sensory power of these shapes, a rhythmic undulation enacting the calm and focus that they offer in Kusama’s restless psychological landscape. Kusama is sharply critical of the lack of support for contemporary art in her native Japan, where she was declared a ‘national disgrace’ for her nude happenings in 1960s New York; now cherished as a vital voice in conceptual art, her unique worldview persists exuberantly to this day.

  • 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



acrylic on canvas
52.6 x 45.4 cm (20 3/4 x 17 7/8 in.)
Signed, numbered and dated 'Yayoi Kusama 1990 9033' on the reverse. This work is registered with the artist's archive under no. 1135.

£50,000 - 70,000 

Sold for £206,500

Contact Specialist
Henry Highley
Head of Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4061

Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 13 February 2015 2pm