Mind and Matter: Alternative Abstractions, 1940–Now

8 / 13

Yayoi Kusama. Violet Obsession. 1994

Sewn and stuffed fabric over rowboat and oars, 43 1/4" x 12' 6 3/8" x 70 7/8" (109.8 x 381.9 x 180 cm). Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Duke. © 2024 Yayoi Kusama

Artist, Yayoi Kusama: I am Yayoi Kusama. I am an avant-garde artist.

Curator, Alexandra Schwartz: Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese artist born in 1929.

Director, Glenn Lowry: Curator, Alexandra Schwartz.

Alexandra Schwartz: As a child, Kusama would have very elaborate dreams in which polka dots of different colors figured very prominently.

Yayoi Kusama: I paint polka dots on paper with my fingers. Polka dots accumulate with a never ending accumulation of polka dots, I paint the work imagining the vastness of the universe. By placing polka dots on the universe I overcome my mental illness and create myself.

Glenn Lowry: In the center of this gallery, you'll see Kusama’s Violet Obsession.

Yayoi Kusama: This work is a soft sculpture embodying sex obession, which is encrusted in protuberances to conquer my fear of sex. I have made boats in white and other colors. But for this one, I'm using my favorite pinkish purple color. I make innumerable protuberances, then I fix them on the boat one by one. Boats can come and go limitlessly and move ahead on the water. The boat, having overcome my obsession, would move on forever, carrying me on board.