SOFT SCULPTURE SURVEY: YAYOI KUSAMA / by Britt Howard

Yayoi Kusama, Compulsion Furniture (Accumulation), 1964

Yayoi Kusama, Compulsion Furniture (Accumulation), 1964

Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama is perhaps most well known for her polka dot-obsessed paintings, sculptures, and installations. In 1962, as a young artist who recently moved to New York from Japan, she began taking furniture and other everyday objects and covering them with soft, protruding sculptures. She eventually created entire environments out of these otherworldly formations. By affixing soft, yet somehow threatening/sexual bulges to domestic objects, Kusama humorously called out the culture of male dominance that permeated the art world during the 1960s. For an extended look at Kusama's Accumulations, check out this article from MoMA's website. 

Kusama's Accumulation 1 (1962), sewn stuffed fabric, paint, and chair fringe. The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Kusama's Accumulation 1 (1962), sewn stuffed fabric, paint, and chair fringe. The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

When I was drawing, the pattern would expand outside of the canvas to fill the floor and the wall. So when I looked far away, I would see a hallucination, and I would get surrounded by that vision. That is how I became an environmental artist. 

Obsessions, phallus obsessions, obsessions of fear, are the main themes of my art. Accumulation is how stars and earth don't exist alone, but rather the entire universe is made of an accumulation of the stars. It's just like when I see flowers, I see them everywhere...and there are so many, and I feel panicked, and become so overwhelmed that I want to eat them all.
      - Yayoi Kusama from Kusama: Princess of Polka Dots directed by Heather Lenz.