At 82 years, the most important Japanese artist is experiencing fame that go beyond the artistic. There are artists whose personal lives go beyond their own work, and they fascinate people and are made immortal long before their time.
That’s what Marc Jacobs, artistic director of Vuitton, must have thought. He knows that obsession is beautiful, and just like when he worked with Richard Prince and Murakami, now the Kusama lunar prints will be what every woman with a fashion addiction will desire.
The history of the Japanese artist is like a movie. In her youth she moved to New York where she immediately connected with the avant garde crowd at the time. She became friends with minimalist Donald Judd, Claes Oldenburg, Chamberlain and Georgia O’Keefee. Kusama made a great impact with her radical artistic expression.
While pop triumphed in Manhattan and Warhol reigned in his “Factory” and “Studio 54″, a Japanese woman revolutionized the Big Apple with her eccentric art, extreme performances and happenings (in “Walking Piece” she strolls around New York in a kimono while in other actions she appears naked around the city showing her opposition to the Vietnam War), and manifestations against the art of the moment: Abstract Expressionism, which she considered patriarchal and authoritarian.
Kusama who had an affair with another artist as eccentric and complex as Joseph Cornell, never lived the sexuality advocated in her works, and the tentacles in her works represent a result of sexual trauma.
In 1973 she returned to Japan and, voluntarily, stays in a mental hospital from which she launches an art that is both pictorially and sculpturally renewed. Her works are now displayed at the Whitney in New York sponsored by the French fashion brand. All four of the major museums of contemporary art in the world are seduced by this unclassifiable, eccentric, experimental, surprising, original, unique and inimitable artist.
Perhaps the circles laboriously printed on fabrics, which were inspired by the stones in the creek behind the house where she grew up, also serve for women to wear them with the same determination and freedom with which Kusama created her art.
It is amazing that a work of an artist representing fragility has come to be the “top” of the moment. However, in the eighties, her quest to become the most famous artist led her into the pit of depression. She became a kind of avant garde hippie shaman popular in the tabloids for painting polka dots on naked bodies. But the cost was high: In the seventies, cracked and broken, she moved to Japan to enter a mental hospital in Tokyo. Success broke her.
From now on, the circles of Kusama will be as present as she was during that decade in New York art scene. Her return is the great success she always wanted.