10 Things You Should Know About Yayoi Kusama

  1. Italian police reprimanded Kusama at the 1966 Venice Biennale for hawking her art 'like hot dogs or ice cream' after she was caught selling off her installation, Narcissus Garden, for $2 a mirror ball.
  2. Kusama has published 19 novellas and books of poetry.
  3. Paintings by Kusama began showing up at junk shops after her New York studio was broken into and all her belongings were stolen in the late 1960s.
  4. The Yayoi Kusama Fashion Company collection was available in department stores under the label Kusama.
  5. Suffering from hallucinations since childhood, Kusama has been vocal about her mental illness and channeled its energy into her art.
  6. Andy Warhol and Kusama were merely acquaintances.
  7. In 1967, Kusama spent a series of weekends in New York city parks painting polka dots on members of the public who were invited to strip naked and be 'made into art' as part of her 'Body Festivals'.
  8. For her 1968 Fall collection, under the Kusama label, she had her models 'divest themselves of their excess clothing' while promenading up New York City's 5th Avenue to 57th Street in, what was known to the press, as the 'Fashion Promenade'.
  9. Kusama's mother was vehemently against her being a painter.
  10. Kusama's art is currently far exceeding auction estimates - Pumpkin 2001 (estimate $12,000-$18,000), realized $32,500. Infinity Net No. 2 1959 (estimate $2.5-$3.5 million), realized $5.8 million.
Yayoi Kusama will turn 80 on March 22.
An exhibition of her work is on through June 8th, 2009 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, Australia. Images copyright the artist.

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