Back to Blog

Yayoi Kusama is known for her bright colors and polka dots. She is known as the queen of polka dots and a pop art sensation. Read below to learn more about her.

Join us on Wednesday October 14th at 2 p.m. for a fun filled session of Art Exploration where we will learn even more about the life and art of Yayoi Kusama and create art work inspired by her together!

Register Here!

Who is Yayoi Kusama?
Yayoi Kusama was born in Matsumoto, Japan on March 22, 1929 to a wealthy family who owned a plant nursery. 

Kusama started creating art at an early age and began writing poetry at age 18.

One of Ross’s landscape paintings.

Early Life and Education
She loved drawing and painting, although her parents didn’t want her to be an artist, she was determined to do so. When her mom tore up her drawings, she made more. When she could not afford to buy art materials, she used mud and old sacks to make art.

This is a drawing she made of her mom when she was 10 years old.

Her childhood was greatly influenced by the effects of war and WW2. She claims that it was during this period that she began to value notions of personal and creative freedom that lead to her being able to persuade her parents to let her go to art school and study painting.

She attended the Kyoto School of Arts and Crafts and studied the traditional Japanese painting style called nihonga.

What is Nihonga Painting?
It is a style of traditional Japanese painting that translates to “Japanese painting”. It started in the 1900’s as a way to separate western style oil painting from traditional methods. It is mainly done in watercolors.

Nihonga painting tools.

Traditional Nihonga style painting.  

The Polka Dot
She became fascinated with polka dots or “infinity nets” as Kusama calls them. She started to paint with polka dots around ten years old. She would go on to cover walls, canvas, and household objects with her polka dots.

In 1957, at the age of 27, she moved to Seattle then to New York to broaden her art career. She quickly became known for her bright colors and fun dots. She became known as a leader in the avant-garde movement.

Avant-garde means new and unusual or experimental ideas, especially in the arts.

She is known for her paintings, sculpture, and performance art.

Infinity paintings
While in New York, she created what she called infinity paints, which were composed of many tiny dots and marks that would later lay the foundations for the Minimalism movement of art. Minimalism art is the repetition of simple geometric forms, like lines or squares. Early works tended to be monochromatic, or a limited palette of one or a few closely related colors.

In 1973, Kusama returned to Japan and continued to produce colorful works of art. 

Accumulation of Nets (no 7), 1962

Untitled, 1952

Yayoi Kusama creating her infinity paintings

Kusama is known for her performance art which is a fusion of art and movement.

Kusama Infinity Mirror Room. She has done several of these infinity mirror room art installations, all different.

Kusama Infinity Mirror Room

Kusama Infinity Mirror Room

Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Room with her famous pumpkins

Yayoi Kusama with her pumpkin exhibit.

This is a picture of Kusama’s pumpkin exhibit when it was visiting Washington DC. It is 8 feet tall and weighs over 1,800 pound.

Kusama working on a painting in her studio.

Endless Life of People, 2010

Untitled Art Work 

A few of Kusama’s sculptures.

Mushrooms, 2003 

Mt. Fuji by Yayoi, 1989

Untitled Art Work 

Lemon Squash 2, 1999

Grapes, 1988

Flowers Sculpture

Flowers, 2002

Art Time! 

It’s time to use Yayoi Kusama art as an inspiration and create unique one of a kind art.  

Supplies Needed

  • Coloring Media ( Any medium can be used such as canyons, oil pastels,  color pencils, paints, or markers) 
  • Template (below)
Template

Yayoi Kusama Pumpkin Project
Create your own Kusama inspired pumpkin. Create several versions of your pumpkin using different colors and try changing the shape.

Resources

If you want to know more, explore these fun titles: