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This lot will be removed to our storage facility a… Read more PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION

Cosmos (THOPS)

Cosmos (THOPS)
signed, titled and dated ‘COSMOS YAYOI KUSAMA 2008 (THOPS)’ (on the reverse)
urethane resin on canvas
76 3/8 x 76 3/8in. (194 x 194cm.)
Executed in 2008
Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills.
Acquired from the above in 2010.
Y. Kusama, Art Book, Hi, Konnichiwa, New York 2013, p. 182 (titled incorrectly; illustrated in colour, pp. 35 and 182).
Beverly Hills, Gagosian Gallery, Yayoi Kusama: Flowers that Bloom at Midnight, 2009, p. 96 (illustrated in colour, p. 71).
Special notice
This lot will be removed to our storage facility at Momart. Christie’s will inform you if the lot has been sent offsite. Our removal and storage of the lot is subject to the terms and conditions of storage which can be found at Christies.com/storage and our fees for storage are set out in the table below - these will apply whether the lot remains with Christie’s or is removed elsewhere. Please call Christie’s Client Service 24 hours in advance to book a collection time at Momart. All collections from Momart will be by pre-booked appointment only. Tel: +44 (0)20 7839 9060 Email: cscollectionsuk@christies.com. If the lot remains at Christie’s it will be available for collection on any working day 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. Lots are not available for collection at weekends. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.
Further details
This work is accompanied by a registration card issued by Yayoi Kusama Inc.

Brought to you by

Tessa Lord
Tessa Lord Senior Specialist, Head of Department

Lot Essay

With its dynamic dance of silver discs amid a celestial expanse of cobalt blue, Cosmos (THOPS) (2008) is a mesmerising example of the polka-dot motif that is among Yayoi Kusama’s most iconic themes. Where the dots in her first ‘Infinity Net’ paintings proliferated in dense webs of impastoed surface, later works such as the present see them expand in size and condense to a serene regularity, bespeaking a tranquil state of contemplation. At almost two metres in width and height, the present canvas offers a hypnotic vista of bold shape and colour. The surface’s seamless perfection was achieved used urethane resin paint—a hard, glossy pigment that Kusama also uses in many of her large-scale sculptures. Rather than following any rigid system, the metallic circles are arranged organically, their three discrete sizes creating a mutual pulsation as if each holds its own gravitational field. While driven partly by the memory of phantasmagoric visions she suffered during her childhood, Kusama’s dots ultimately go beyond the biographical, evoking vast, unfathomable forces that lie outside the limits of human imagination. The present work was created during a triumphant period in the new millennium, shortly after she was awarded the 2006 Praemium Imperiale for Painting, Japan’s most prestigious international art prize.

For more than six decades, Kusama’s polka-dots and cellular patterns have swarmed over not only her paintings, but also her sculptures, her pioneering mirror installations, and even the nude bodies of participants in her infamous ‘happenings’ of the 1960s. These motifs stem from hallucinations that the artist suffered during her early childhood. Traumatised by a distressing emotional environment at home, she was struck by apparitions of proliferating spots, nets and flowers that threatened to swallow her whole world. It was at this same time, around the age of ten, that she resolved to become an artist. ‘My room, my body, the entire universe was filled with [patterns]’, she recalls; ‘my self was eliminated, and I had returned and been reduced to the infinity of eternal time and the absolute of space. This was not an illusion but reality’ (Y. Kusama, quoted in L. Hoptman and U. Kultermann, Yayoi Kusama, New York 2000, p. 36). In the repetitious forms and techniques of her mature practice, Kusama retools these overwhelming patterns as a means of release, finding in them a form of wondrous dissolution.

Kusama showed her first Infinity Nets in 1959 in New York, where she had arrived from Japan one year earlier. They were extraordinarily well-received, receiving early acclaim from the critic and Minimalist Donald Judd. ‘The expression transcends the question of whether it is Oriental or American’, he wrote. ‘Although it is something of both, certainly of such Americans as Rothko, Still and Newman, it is not at all a synthesis and is thoroughly independent’ (D. Judd, ‘Reviews and previews: new names this month’, Art News, October 1959, in Donald Judd Complete Writings 1959-1975, New York 2015, p. 2). Indeed, while these influential works bear comparison to the sublime, all-over surfaces of Abstract Expressionism—also encompassing the purity of Minimalism, and, in later canvases, the graphic punch of Pop—Kusama’s dots and webs form part of an investigation that is entirely her own. They continue to animate her rich, esoteric practice well into the twenty-first century. Suggestive at once of the immensities of stars and planets and of the microscopic life of cells and atoms, Cosmos (THOPS) merges ecstatically with the mysteries of the universe.

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