3 More
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK … Read more


signed twice, titled and dated 'OOAXT INFINITY-NETS YAYOI KUSAMA Yayoi Kusama 2008' (on the reverse)
acrylic on canvas
51 1/4 x 51 1/4in. (130.3 x 130.3cm.)
Painted in 2008
Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo.
Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney.
Private Collection, Sydney.
Anon. sale, Christie’s Shanghai, 24 October 2014, lot 229.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Special notice
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. Christie's has provided a minimum price guarantee and has a direct financial interest in this lot. Christie's has financed all or a part of such interest through a third party. Such third parties generally benefit financially if a guaranteed lot is sold. See the Important Notices in the Conditions of Sale for more information.
Further details
This work is accompanied by the registration card issued by the artist's studio.

Brought to you by

Claudia Schürch
Claudia Schürch Senior Specialist, Head of Evening Sale

Lot Essay

With its scintillating web of dots undulating across a shimmering expanse of red, the present work is a majestic example of Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Nets. Wrought from delicate, scalloped strands of impasto, these works stands among the defining achievements of the artist’s oeuvre, each a hymn to the unfathomable void of human existence. Here, skeins of red paint are woven across a blue backdrop, creating an amorphous cloud of colour and texture that fades from deep crimson to pink and purple. Tiny azure dots gleam through the surface, like microscopic patches of sky. Commenced during her early years in New York during the late 1950s, Kusama’s Infinity Nets offered unique responses to many of the same questions posed by Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism. At the same time, these works were deeply personal, functioning as an outlet for the obsessive visions of dots and webs that had plagued Kusama since childhood. Her first hallucination, notably, was dominated by the colour red: here, almost seven decades later, it continues to haunt her world.

Kusama was born in Japan in 1929. During a childhood full of emotional turmoil, she found solace in art. At the age of ten, she began experiencing visions: vast fields of dots and flashes of light that would multiply before her eyes, covering herself and her surroundings. ‘My room, my body, the entire universe was filled with [patterns], my self was eliminated, and I had returned and been reduced to the infinity of eternal time and the absolute of space’, she recalls. ‘This was not an illusion but reality’ (Y. Kusama, quoted in L. Hoptman and U. Kultermann, Yayoi Kusama, New York 2000, p. 36). The Infinity Nets, ultimately, had their origins here. During her time in New York, Kusama began to immerse herself in these paintings. Despite their success in both America and Europe—Donald Judd, Lucy Lippard and Frank Stella were early admirers—the artist continued to battle personal demons during these years. The meditative act of hand-painting these webs of colour, often for hours on end without eating or sleeping, brought her great comfort.

By the time Kusama moved to New York in 1957, the concept of infinity was beginning to spark the imagination of many artists. In the aftermath of the Second World War, figures such as Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko had reconceived painting as a means of transcending the material world. In France, Yves Klein would attempt his seminal ‘leap into the void’; later, in Poland, the artist Roman Opałka would set out on a lifelong quest to paint the numbers one to infinity. Klein and Rothko, along with artists such as Lucio Fontana and Piero Manzoni, were among Kusama’s early exhibition partners. Others would place her Infinity Nets in the context of Minimalism, their serial, repetitive forms stripped of all external reference. Elsewhere, they prompted comparison with the dizzying illusions of Op Art. The present work, with its richly marbled chromatic surface, might even be seen to chime with the opulent abstract canvases of Gerhard Richter, which similarly captured a sense of interminable depth.

Ultimately, however, for Kusama the Infinity Nets were not expressions of their time. Rather, they were timeless, formless, dimensionless: images of total sublimation. ‘By obliterating one’s individual self,’ explained Kusama, ‘one returns to the infinite universe’ (Y. Kusama, quoted in G. Turner, ‘Yayoi Kusama’, BOMB, Vol. 66, Winter 1999, p. 64). This notion would saturate her practice—from her mirrored Infinity Rooms, to her obsessive polka dot-covered pumpkins. In the endless repetitions and multiplications of her art, Kusama was saved from the cruelties of the physical world. After submitting herself to a psychiatric hospital in Tokyo in the 1970s, painting would continue to offer her a means of refuge and release. While the present work might resemble swirling galaxies or vast constellations, it is fundamentally a manifestation of Kusama’s complex interior world, its embers burning brightly for eternity.

More from 20th/21st Century: London Evening Sale

View All
View All