Louis Vuitton’s collaboration with Yayoi Kusuma is released in the shops tomorrow (polka dots are SO the new black) so we thought what better time to celebrate the artist and her works. Whilst we hope highly respected Japanese artist Yayoi Kusuma hasn’t been permanently dragged in to the depths of the designer fashion world by the big label giants, this recently released film, made in conjunction with Louis Vuitton, is a fantastic way to get a glimpse of her work and the artist, who for most of her life has lived and worked as what she calls, an ‘obsessive’ artist in a psychiatric institution in America.
More background on her early life and the first signs of psychosis which led to her first artworks can be found in this film. Below is also a few paragraphs from Infinity Net, the autobiography of the polka dot queen. Christie’s sold one of her works in 2008 for $5.1million which was a record sum for a living female artist at that time.
From Infinity Net:
“I was twenty-seven when I went to the United States. If I had not made it to the USA, I do not think I would be who I am today. The environment I grew up in was exceedingly conservative, and escaping it at the earliest possible moment had been my dream, and my struggle. I would have preferred to leave much earlier but was delayed because of the difficulty of traveling overseas in those days and the fierce opposition of my family—in particular my mother. Still, I made it, and I am glad I did. If I had stayed in Japan, I would never have grown as I have, either as an artist or as a human being. America is really the country that raised me, and I owe what I have become to her.”
“I was born on 22 March 1929, in Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture, the youngest child of Kamon and Shigeru Kusama. My family was an old one, of high social standing, having for the past century or so managed wholesale seed nurseries on vast tracts of land. Each day a crowd of workers came to collect the seeds of violets or zinnias or whatever it might be, for resale all over Japan. We had six large hothouses, which were so rare in those days that sometimes groups of schoolchildren came on field trips to look at them. Propertied and wealthy, my family supported local painters and had a standard understanding of art. But the prospect of their youngest child becoming a painter was a different matter altogether.”
“My grandfather was an ambitious man, active in both business and politics, and my mother had inherited his blood and his fiery temperament. My father married into the family and adopted the Kusama name. The tension and pressure that arose from that arrangement was certainly responsible to a large degree for the oppressive atmosphere that dominated my infancy and childhood. I entered Kamata Elementary School in 1935. By 1941, the year I matriculated at Matsumoto First Girls’ High School, the war that had been going on for so long had ignited into the Second World War. And it was from about that time that I began to experience regular visual and aural hallucinations—seeing auras around objects, or hearing the speech of plants and animals.”
You can see the rest of Louis Vuitton’s finely groomed collaboration with Kusuma here