Fall Highlights: Yayoi Kusama's New Pumpkin-Themed Show Debuts in Lodon

October 9, 2014 2:28 PM

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One of 2012's surprise hit shows in London was Yayoi Kusama's retrospective at Tate Modern. Partly, it was that the work was so good -- playful, hyper-real, immersive pieces showing the artist's complete commitment to her aesthetic over some six decades. But there was also a feeling that Kusama's story was almost too enticing to be true. Born in rural Japan before leaving the country and working her way to the heart of New York's avant-garde, she rubbed shoulders with the likes of Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg. She became an artist who prefigured and encouraged significant post-war schools of art from surrealism and conceptualism to pop art and abstract expressionism. Throughout much of this, various mental health issues reportedly left her living under voluntary admission in a psychiatric hospital since 1977.

The common art world narrative would now rue an artist who was underappreciated in her own time and died in obscurity. But Kusama bucked that stereotype -- not only was her market value extremely strong (2008 saw Christie's New York sell her 1959 work No. 2 from the "Infinity Net" series for almost ...

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