The Woman is one of these earlier abstract works. The watercolor depicts a singular biomorphic form with subtle dots in the center floating in a seemingly black abyss. The form is reminiscent of female genitalia with red spikes surrounding it. The overall effect of the work is aggressive and bizarre, showing signs of Kusama's struggles with mental illness and anxiety towards sex. From a very young age, Kusama experienced hallucinations in which a single pattern would engulf everything in her field of vision.
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As Kusama explains, "one day I was looking at the red flower patterns of the tablecloth on a table, and when I looked up I saw the same pattern covering the ceiling, the windows and the walls, and finally all over the room, my body, and the universe. I felt as if I had begun to self-obliterate, to revolve in the infinity of endless time and the absoluteness of space, and be reduced to nothingness.
Her use of dots became the manifestation of this effort and has become the defining motif in her work. They also showcase the way she used art to process her mental illness. We can see through her own words, a sense of what these paintings accomplished for the artist: "With just one polka dot, nothing can be achieved.
Timing is everything
In the universe, there is the sun, the moon, the earth, and hundreds of millions of stars. All of us live in the unfathomable mystery and infinitude of the universe. Pursuing philosophy of the universe through art under such circumstances has led me to what I call stereotypical repetition. F is one of Kusama's first works from the celebrated series. From a distance the subtle painting looks delicate and monochromatic, but when viewed up close, the complexities of the canvas's surface become apparent.
The bluish-grey underlay is almost completely obscured by small, white semi-circles, which consume the entire canvas and only allow the gray underlay to be visible in the form of tiny dots. The organic arched shapes all curve in the same direction, creating an undulating net that would continue on indefinitely if not for the edge of the canvas.
As Kusama explains, "without beginning, end, or center. The entire canvas would be occupied by [a] monochromatic net. This endless repetition caused a kind of dizzy, empty, hypnotic feeling.
The thick build-up of the top layer of white paint also adds texture to the work, while the repetitive crescent shapes create an optically mesmerizing pattern that is neither random nor systematic, but instead reminiscent of things found in the natural world, such as atoms and cells. Although the obsessive and time-consuming Nets were painstaking to create, they proved therapeutic for the artist.
Begun in the late s, the series coincided with Kusama's move from her oppressive homeland to New York, where she found the artistic freedom she needed to expand her art practice. Created when Abstract Expressionism was still the popular contemporary art form and Minimalism was still in its infancy, the Infinity Nets were avant-garde for their time.
As a result, the Nets are both expressive and minimal, bridging the two opposing movements. For Kusama personally, her Infinity Nets have become central to her practice, and continue to influence her work. The work consists of a single abandoned armchair painted white and completely covered with soft, stuffed phallic protrusions, while fringe encircles the base of the sculpture. No longer limited by the pictorial plane of the two-dimensional canvas as with Infinity Nets , the stuffed sculpture continues Kusama's repetition compulsion in three-dimensional form.
The menacing piece is both aggressive and humorous, and also works to confront Kusama's sexual phobias. As Asia scholar, Alexandra Munroe explains, "her ambition for supremacy over men and over sexuality is relentlessly expressed in her repetitive and aggregate use of the phallus form, which can be interpreted as an aggressive will and fantasy to defy oppressive male power by possessing it symbolically herself. More than just making a statement against patriarchal authority, these "compulsion furniture" pieces, as she called them, were deeply personal for Kusama as they were her way of coping with her own innate sexual anxieties.
Lippard, called 'Eccentric Abstraction'. By inserting herself into the piece, literally on top of an object that represents a manifestation of her sexual aversion, Kusama attempts to subvert her own discomfort and - in effect - to conquer it. It becomes a visual juxtaposition of her direct confrontation of a lifelong sexual aversion with the recognition of her nude self as an unmistakable, even if unwilling, object of sexual desire. This brave presentation of herself in physical dialogue with her fears positions Kusama as a participant in the burgeoning Feminist art movement of the time and also foreshadows her work in the late s in which she would use her body and the body of others in public performances.
Although she is slim and stylish and positioned amongst a groovy psychedelic scene with strong, provocative visual impact, the rendering of her signature polka dots across her skin reminds the viewer that she is most comfortable when allowed to be seen as an intrinsic part of the artwork, and merely one polka dot in the universe of many. Kusama reclining on Accumulation No. Although officially not invited to represent Japan at the 33 rd Venice Biennale nor given permission to participate by Biennale officials, Kusama nevertheless placed 1, plastic silver globes on the lawn near the Italian Pavilion.
The twelve-inch in diameter mirrored balls were tightly arranged, creating an infinite reflective field that distorted images of reality on the surface of the balls. As in the original Greek myth in which Narcissus's admiration for his own reflection eventually causes him to drown, the viewer is forced to confront their own vanity when looking at their distorted reflection on the surface of the balls.
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During the opening week of the Biennale the artist acted like a street peddler selling the balls for two dollars, while also distributing flyers with Herbert Read's flattering remarks about her work. While she hawked her wares, Kusama wore a gold kimono blatantly drawing attention to her "otherness" as foreigner, and highlighting the desire for fame that Kusama would seek throughout her life.
And while angry Biennale officials immediately put a stop to her panhandling, the installation remained for the duration of the Biennale. As art historian Danielle Shang explains, the work has been "interpreted by many as both Kusama's self-promotion and her protest of the commercialization of art" creating a sense of duality, which is present in all of Kusama's work. Since its creation fifty years ago, Narcissus Garden has been commissioned and re-installed in various settings, however now the balls float on water further referencing the Greek myth.
Plastic silver balls, gold kimono, signs - 33 rd Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy. The work featured nude performers dancing to the rhythm of bongo drums while Kusama, who called herself 'Priestess', painted blue dots on their naked bodies and presided over the event. The performance was in opposition of the Vietnam War and was prefaced by a press release that stated, "The money made with this stock is enabling the war to continue. We protest this cruel, greedy instrument of the war establishment. Nixon in which she wrote, "Our earth is like one little polka dot, among millions of other celestial bodies, one orb full of hatred and strife amid the peaceful, silent spheres.
Let's you and I change all that and make this world a new Garden of Eden You can't eradicate violence by using more violence. Her absurdly theatrical happenings, which were always overtly political, were an expression of this opposition. For Kusama, nudity represented peace and love and was used to counter the horrors and tragedies of war.
And while her happenings were inherently about political and social protest, they were also another outlet for self-promotion. Kusama fully embraced Warhol's idea of the artist as celebrity, claiming, "publicity is critical to my work because it offers the best way of communicating with a large number of people Made specifically for the Benesse Art Site on Naoshima Island in Japan, the giant, yellow pumpkin sculpture is painted with rows of black dots fanning out from large to small around the gourd. The pumpkin's bulbous, organic form and grand scale gives the work a cartoonish appearance, highlighting how strange the natural world appears in modern culture.
Created when she was living in Japan, the work also reflects a shift in Kusama's artistic practice from her earlier aggressive and politically charged works to the more kitsch works that consume her art later in life.
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This shift can be attributed to the transition in Japanese culture from rigid and militaristic to a full on embrace of the ridiculous and tacky, as seen in the Hello Kitty cuteness of Kawaii culture. Kusama has also described the pumpkin motif as an alter ego, once again emphasizing how her work and identity are intrinsically intertwined. The lifelong obsession with the fruit derives from her youth and her family's nursery. It immediately began speaking to me in a most animated manner.
It seems that pumpkins do not inspire much respect, but I was enchanted by their charming and winsome form. Set up to resemble the interior of a domestic environment, the walls, ceiling, floor, furniture and little knick knacks are all painted sterile white. Visitors to the room are handed a sheet of round stickers of various shape and size determined by Kusama, and invited to affix them to any surface in the room. Eventually the pristine room along with the furniture is obliterated by an explosion of colorful dots.
As Munroe explains, "Kusama's art is fundamentally about obsession and the need, born of anxiety, to repeat certain acts in an attempt to free herself from that obsession. Since childhood, her art-making has been a private, atavistic ritual, a necessary inducement to repetition that leads to catharsis.
In the space, children are encouraged to violate the "look, but don't touch" policy of art museums, which for Kusama represents parental restrictions. The act of placing the dot stickers on a work of art allows the children to indirectly disobey their parents. The Crossroads.
Ron Hubbard. Nunslinger 2. Stark Holborn. Young Goodman Brown. George Lakon. The Ransom of Red Chief. Murder in a Blue Moon. David R. Lily's Easter Party. Richard G. The Story of a Whim. Grace Livingston Hill. Brad Beals. The Last of the Belles. Francis Scott Fitzgerald. Voices of Christmas. Nikki Grimes. The Sun Never Sets. Val Griswold-Ford. Rambling Idle Excursion. Dawn Breaking. The Company of Glory. Edgar Pangborn.