Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)


Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929)
signed and dated '1963 yayoi kusama' (lower left edge); signed again, titled and dated again 'KUSAMA 1963 REPETITIVE-VISION' (on the reverse)
stamps on paper
20 x 32¾ in. (50.8 x 83.1 cm.)
Executed in 1963.
Gift of the artist to the present owner

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Lot Essay

Yayoi Kusama's Repetitive-Vision encompasses many of the elements that have made her one of the most influential artists of her generation. This sheet of four hundred and eighty air mail labels is the product of a complex and obsessive mind. The artist has spent much of her life battling her own inner demons but in the face of adversity created some of the most beautiful and hypnotic works of the last fifty years. Much of Kusama's work is dominated by the idea of repetition and an obsession with order, a fixation which began early in her childhood.
"When I was about ten years old, I began painting pictures and making sculpture like objects by lining up small pebbles from a river behind my parent's house on the dried river bed. These are the origins of the forms that I have been creating throughout my life ever since I can remember" (Y. Kusama as quoted in Yayoi Kusama: The Mirrored Years, City Gallery, Wellington, 2009).

Created in 1963, just five years after she arrived in New York, the present work combines this fascination with replication along with the appropriation of everyday objects she came across in the United States. The choice of air mail labels is indicative not only of the primary colors that have come to dominate much of her career, but also of the idea that she had traveled half way around the world to escape, what she regarded as, a stiflingly conservative life back in Japan.

After arriving in United States she soon became a fixture of the New York art scene, producing a body of work that was not only powerful but also extraordinarily prophetic of artistic developments happening at the time. Repetitive-Vision is a prime example of this, as it plays with similar ideas that Andy Warhol was grappling with when he began to experiment with his silkscreen prints of stamps and money. However, in contrast to Warhol's mechanical use of the screen print, Kusama's work remains deeply personal, relying on the labor intensive and hand made quality of the accumulation of actual objects, which are then reinforced by the individual act of pasting down each element by hand.
Broadly unsung during her two decades in New York, Yayoi Kusama is now unequivocally regarded as a critical figure in the Pop, Minimalist and Performance Art movements and an artist whose influence still reverberates with contemporary artists of today.

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