“My desire was to predict and measure the infinity of the unbounded universe, from my own position in it, with dots – an accumulation of particles forming the negative spaces in the net…I issued a manifesto stating that everything – myself, others, the universe – would be obliterated by white nets of nothingness connecting astronomical accumulations of dots.” (Y. Kusama, Infinity Net: The Autobiography of Yayoi Kusama, trans. R. McCarthy, Tate Publishing, London, 2011, p.23.)
From a distance, Infinity Net first appears to be a monochrome white square. But, upon closer inspection, the work reveals itself as a delicate yet hypnotic pattern of gestural scallops that combine to form an interweaving net of paint. With no two identical markings, the dense composition acts as a record of the artistic process and an embodiment of time. A quintessential example of the Japanese-American artist Yayoi Kusama’s acclaimed Infinity Net series that she began in the 1950s, the allover effect reflects the title in its potential to expand past the confines of the picture plane ad infinitum.
To produce these mesmeric works, Kusama bathes the canvas in a dark wash, after which the artist conceals the ground with an endless lattice of semi-circles, painting compulsively for hours on end, sometimes without sustenance or sleep. The labor intensive intricacy of these repeated iterations of a single, simple gesture reflects Kusama’s personal mythology. The artist has described her nets as visualizations of powerful hallucinations the artist has endured since childhood, wherein the entire universe fills with dot patterns. These visions are just one example of the psychological ill health that has plagued the artist throughout her life and artistic career. According to the artist, these dizzying compositions exist as an act of self-obliteration and artistic transubstantiation, allowing the individual to return to the infinite universe.
Kusama’s Infinity Net series was integral to her rise to critical acclaim in the 1960s. Her debut solo show in New York at the Brata Gallery in October 1959 exclusively exhibited works from this series, and the Minimalist artist Donald Judd was one of the first to collect and champion her work. The first Infinity Nets that Kusama produced for these early exhibitions were white. Though she subsequently also made colored nets, the artist has returned periodically to execute white infinity nets over the past half century, as demonstrated by the present lot, underscoring the principal importance of this series, and specifically this palette, to the artist.