Yayoi Kusama Global Appeal

In the past five years, more than 5 million museum visitors have lined up for a brief glimpse of the work of Yayoi Kusama. The 89-year-old Japanese artist, who for the past 41 years has lived voluntarily in a psychiatric hospital, has had large-scale solo shows of her work in Mexico City, Rio, Seoul, Taiwan and Chile, as well as major touring exhibitions in the US and Europe. Last year, she opened her own five-story gallery in Tokyo. The Broad museum in Los Angeles recently sold 90,000 $25 tickets in an afternoon to its Kusama exhibition, causing the LA Times to ask if the artist was now “Hotter than Hamilton?”

How did this happen? The most obvious single word answer is “Instagram”. People – hundreds of thousands of them – photograph themselves in Kusama’s unique spacey wonderlands and share the results. Many modern art galleries are currently exploring the idea of exhibition as uploadable social media “experience”. Kusama – in developing an idea she first presented in New York in 1966 – has already cornered the market.

The UK is releasing of a film about the artist’s extraordinary life, Kusama: Infinity. The story of the making of the film is indicative of the ways Kusama’s fortunes have soared. Its director, Heather Lenz, first tried to get the idea off the ground in 2001. She pitched the story to every production company she could think of and was told the same thing by all of them. Her idea was “too arty”, Kusama had “no name recognition”, and “no one wants to watch a movie about a woman artist”. No longer.

Lenz’s film reveals how Kusama’s life has been if anything more estranging than her obsessive work, and the ways in which one informs the other. It does it no harm as a tale of perseverance and triumph that it falls into neat chapters of Kusama’s self-transformation.

This information is from Tim Adams article in The Guardian.

American Fine Art