At the age of 93, Yayoi Kusama continues to actively make art. Some of his most recent creations can be found among his iconic work exhibited in a successful retrospective in Hong Kong that celebrates both the artist’s seven-decade artistic journey as well as the first anniversary of the M+ museum.
The highly anticipated exhibition, titled “Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now,” features more than 200 works ranging from paintings, sculptures, installations, moving images and archival documents. Divided into six themes: infinity, accumulation, radical connectedness, the biocosmic, death and the force of life, the colorful exhibition traces the artist’s trajectory from his formative years in Japan to to its breakthrough in the West after moving to the United States. in 1957, and finally to the decades after his return to his native country in 1973.
Kusama is now a household name in the art world. She has won the title of the world’s best-selling Japanese artist, according to data from Artnet Price Database, with sales of her works reaching over $1 billion earlier this month. Widely regarded as one of Asia’s most influential artists, her work has been exhibited internationally, including in previous retrospectives such as the 2012 exhibitions at Tate Modern in London and the Whitney Museum of American Art in London. New York, the 2017 exhibition at National Gallery Singapore, and last year’s presentation at Gropius Bau in Berlin, which ended in May at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
So why is M+ holding another Kusama retrospective, and how is it different from its predecessors? “His years in New York had been emphasized and focused again and again. However, for me what was under-examined is [the period] after returning to Japan,” Doryun Chong, deputy director and chief curator of M+, told Artnet News. Chong co-curated the Hong Kong retrospective with independent curator Mika Yoshitake.
Kusama went through a personal crisis after returning to her native country in the 1970s. She was an outcast in Japan, Chong noted, and was quickly forgotten by the American art world. But she continued to reinvent her practice and slowly recovered her path in the 1980s and 1990s to become Japan’s representative at the 1993 Venice Biennale.
“It took him 20 years to get to this from 1973. That’s the part we put a lot of emphasis on [in the show]giving as much or even more weight to the second half of his career,” Chong said.
The M+ exhibition, which runs until May 14, 2023, is accompanied by a series of public programs as well as a range of exclusive merchandise. The museum has even partnered with Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway (MTR) to create a Kusama-themed MTR train, featuring images of the artist’s famous dotted pumpkins.
Here are some highlights from “Yayoi Kusama: 1945–Now.”
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