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  • Provenance

    Private Collection
    Sotheby's, New York, 6 October 2005, lot 109
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Painted in 1999, amidst a period of major retrospectives cementing Yayoi Kusama’s unique place within the context of the contemporary art canon, Infinity Nets (APQ) exemplifies the Japanese artist’s most iconic motif, in which she transposes hallucinatory visions on canvas in the form of ever-multiplying circular shapes. As a mesmerising body of work she has frequently revisited over a period of fifty years, the Infinity Nets series is cornerstone to the artist’s formal explorations and overall vision, setting the foundations for her most significant works and installations.

    From afar, the metre-tall Infinity Nets (APQ) seems to move, its variably-sized dots swarming and fluttering across the gold-painted canvas, as though mimicking the movement of a heartbeat. Upon closer inspection, however, the circles become increasingly static and imperfect, and the inversion of each colour’s disposition becomes apparent, revealing the motionlessness of the painting’s gridded structure. ‘My desire was to predict and measure the infinity of the unbounded universe, from my own position in it, with dots – an accumulation of particles forming the negative spaces in the net’ (Yayoi Kusama, quoted in Rachel Taylor, ‘Eternal Recurrence: Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Nets’, Yayoi Kusama White Infinity Nets, London, 2013, n.p.). As the picture plane’s dark purple background swallows the repetitive semicircles arranged atop it and spits them out in turn, repeating the motion in an endless and hypnotic fashion, the effect of ‘infinity and unboundedness’ visually takes form.

    Infinity Nets (APQ) thus epitomises Kusama’s extensive Infinity Nets series, ceaselessly revisiting the interaction between monochromatic pigment and rhythmic lattice structures. As with the majority of works from this series, the present painting indeed conjures a sense of movement and depth, like a net afloat on water, or the topographical undulation of a landscape. Kusama formally accomplishes this through the creation of subtle fluctuations in both the size of the arcs and the thickness or translucence of the golden acrylic, producing delicate gradients between the two colours –a quality undoubtedly attributable to her formal training in traditional Japanese Nihonga painting.

    As a subliminal manifestation of her life-long psychosis, Kusama’s Infinity Nets furthermore provide the viewer with insight into the artist’s hallucinatory episodes, and infuse her abstract work with warmth and character. In moments of psychological unrest, Kusama indeed described finding herself engulfed by the rythmic pattern, brimming with 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 step out of her thoughts and into the canvas’s margins. ‘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 thus the endless reach and repetition of this motif which sparked Kusama’s fixation with the ‘infinite’ and spurred an obsessive production of Net paintings.

    Archetypal of this series, Infinity Nets (APQ) conveys the inextricable relationship between Kusama’s signature style and the psychotic struggles pervading her own life. In doing so, the work beautifully sublimes Kusama’s neurosis and materialises the artist’s compulsive need to reach the infinite through intense, ritualistic repetition.

  • Artist Biography

    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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Infinity Nets (APQ)

signed, titled and dated 'YAYOI KUSAMA 1999 "Infinity Nets (APQ)"' on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
100 x 80.5 cm (39 3/8 x 31 3/4 in.)
Painted in 1999, this work is accompanied by a registration card issued by the Yayoi Kusama studio.

£400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for £465,000

Contact Specialist
Henry Highley
Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4061 [email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 5 October 2018