Yayoi Kusama has always been my favorite artists that I’m not only fascinated by her repeated patterns but also inspired by her personal experience and how she relates them into her work of arts. According to Wikipedia, Kusama has worked in a wide variety of media, including painting, collage, sculpture, performance art and environmental installations which all features her iconic psychedelic use of colors, repetition of patterns (especially dots) and also genital objects. She is also a precursor of the Pop Art, minimalist, and feminist art movement. Personally I was desperate to go to her exhibition last year in New York but somehow I missed it. Eventually I had the opportunity and went to the one in Shanghai that was absolutely mind-blowing and inspiring. The exhibition was divided into several sections which includes her early period paintings, flower and dog sculptures, the pumpkins and of course the “Mirror Room”.

The thread that connects Yayoi Kusama with pop culture is Pop Art and how she collaborates with different media such as fashion designers and magazines that distinguishes her from just being a pure artist. Pop Art originated in the 1950s in Britain and popularized by artists such as Andy Warhol, Richard Hamilton, and Jasper Johns…etc. Pop Art made its way by challenging traditional fine art such as including advertising imagery, news and other non-traditional objects like Warhol’s famous Campbell’s tomato soup can. Pop art isn’t a single art form that attracts people but an art form that combines and mixes various styles thus it is always regarded as a pioneer against self-righteousness of modernism. And what is special about Pop Art is that it has a long-lasting and far-reaching effect on fashion industry. Quite a lot of fashion designers or graphic designers draws inspiration from Pop Art works.

Yayoi Kusama also reminds of another feminist artist Yoko Ono, both of them takes what they need from Pop Art and then translates them into their own work of arts.

Yayoi Kusama popularizes herself into mainstream audiences through designer collaboration such as the one with Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton and also celebrities and the effect and impact of industry magazines. She puts her iconic use of psychedelic color and numerous repeated dots on the Louis Vuitton monogram from key chains to coin purses and even duffle bags. The collaboration was extremely successful and considered to be one of Louis Vuitton’s most profitable collections among different artists they have been worked together. Also she has worked with W Magazine’s January issue that she once again puts her iconic dots all over celebrity George Clooney. 

On one hand, the artists such as Yayoi Kusama are exerting influences on pop culture; on the other hand, pop culture feeds back on their images by symbolization. For most audiences, “insane old woman”, “dots”, “Marilyn Monroe”, “coca cola” is what pop art takes to be, so that pop art becomes something with kind of utopia.


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