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Yayoi Kusama at "I Who Have Arrived In Heaven" at David Zwirner, November 2013. Photo: Andrew Toth/Getty Images
date:2016-03-22 06:12:58

Yayoi Kusama is a living contradiction. She is the most popular artist in the world, but few people really delve into her art beyond Instagram.

She was born in Nagano, Japan on March 22, 1929, and has had artistic inclinations—as well as troubling hallucinations—since childhood. She ditched an unsupportive family and moved to New York City in 1957, where she mingled with avant-garde artists like Andy Warhol, Eva Hesse,Donald Judd, and Joseph Cornell, staging provocative happenings in public despite the dangers.


She returned to Japan in 1973, and in 1975 was committed to a psychiatric hospital in Tokyo, where she still lives today, making work in the hospital and in various studio spaces she maintains in the neighborhood. A visionary with spiritual optimism and relentless self-confidence, her rare interviews are full of beautiful moments.

Celebrate Kusama's 87th birthday through a few words by the artist on her life and work.

Yayoi Kusama, Gleaming Lights of the Souls (2008) Photo: Jim Dyson/Getty Images
date:2016-03-22 06:12:16

On her mother:
"My mother beat me and kicked me on the derriere every day, irritated that I was always painting…When I left for New York, my mother gave me $1,000,000 yen and told me never to set foot in her house again."

On polka dots:
"When I create my work, I'm not forcing to bring the polka dots into it. Subconsciously, it became polka-dots always by itself."

"[The mirror room] gives us the sense of the infinite existence of electronic polka-dots. I looked at the piece, and I thought that this is fantastic and I became a fanatic fan of the work."

"After all, well, moon is a polka dot, sun is a polka dot, and then, the earth where we live is also a polka dot."

Yayoi Kusama, Infinite Obsession (2013) Photo: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images
date:2016-03-22 06:11:23

On artists who copy her work:
"My reaction [to Lucas Samaras' mirrored rooms] was, 'He did it again.' I hope Lucas pursues the path of creativity and pain inherent in artists from now on, instead of following what Kusama has done."

"When I went to the opening of [Claes Oldenberg's] solo show held at the Green Gallery [in 1962], his wife led me to his piece Calendar and said to the effect, “Yayoi, I am sorry we took your idea." I was surprised to see the work almost identical to my sculpture."

"Andy [Warhol] copied my ideas such as repetition and accumulation for his work." (source)

Yayoi Kusama, "Dots Obsessions" (2013). Photo: HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/Getty Images
date:2016-03-22 06:10:47

On her mental health:
"My art originates from hallucinations only I can see. I translate the hallucinations and obsessional images that plague me into sculptures and paintings. All my works in pastels are the products of obsessional neurosis and are therefore inextricably connected to my disease. I create pieces even when I don't see hallucinations, though."

"Because my mother was so vehemently against my becoming an artist, I became emotionally unstable and suffered a nervous breakdown. It was around this time, or in my later teens, that I began to receive psychiatric treatment. By translating hallucinations and fear of hallucinations into paintings, I have been trying to cure my disease."

"I left Japan determined to live and die in the United States. I would not have had to return to Japan, even temporarily, if my Japanese doctor in New York had given me surgical treatment early enough. Now, without realizing it, I have been in this mental hospital for 20-some years. I live a peaceful life creating artwork."

Yayoi Kusama, Love is Calling (2013) Image: M_Strasser via Flickr Creative Commons
date:2016-03-22 06:10:08

On coming to New York:
"When I arrived in New York, action painting was the rage, de Kooning, Pollock and others. I wanted to be completely detached from that and start a new art movement."

On inspiration:
"My ideas and creativity are the sources of inspiration for me."

"In front of paint brushes and canvas, my hands react to them and make my work before I think of anything. Then, when the piece is completed, I look at it, and am surprised by the result—always." (source)

On fame:
“I want to become more famous, even more famous."

date:2016-03-18 12:59:46

Francis Bacon's 'Elated' Double Self-Portrait Heads to Sotheby's

Francis Bacon, Two Studies for a Self-Portrait (1970). Photo: courtesy Sotheby's.
date:2016-03-18 12:59:02

A Francis Bacon double self-portrait, a rare format for the artist, is coming to auction at Sotheby's New York in May. Two Studies for a Self-Portrait (1970) is tagged at a hefty $22 to $30 million.

If it hit its high estimate, it will be among the top 20 or so prices fetched by the Irish-born artist, whose auction record stands at the stratospheric $142.4 million, paid for Three Studies of Lucian Freud (in 3 parts) atChristie's New York in November 2013. That price was then the highest amount ever paid for an artwork at auction.

 The Bacon reveal marks the beginning of the trickle of buzz-building announcements the auction houses make in the run-up to the major auctions.

Adding to its allure, the work has been with the seller since soon after it was painted and has been on public view only twice, most recently atMarlborough Fine Art, London, in 1993. It was previously shown at the 1971 Bacon retrospective at the Grand Palais, Paris. It goes on view at Sotheby's Los Angeles on Wednesday.

The work was also featured on the cover of Milan Kundera and France Borel's 1997 book Francis Bacon: Portraits and Self-Portraits.


The cover of Bacon Portraits and Self Portraits by Milan Kundera and France Borel (Thames & Hudson, 1997)
date:2016-03-18 12:01:08

Despite the characteristic distortions of the artist's visage, the house's press release asserts that it shows him “elated" in the run-up to the Paris show, and because he was in the “throes" of his relationship with George Dyer, who would commit suicide just two days before the Paris retrospective's opening.

The work comes to market in the same year that Tate Liverpool will showsome 30 of the artist's paintings, and the Getty Museum, Los Angeles, will stage a show devoted to the “School of London," a group of figurative painters also including Freud and Frank Auerbach, among others.

date:2016-03-17 01:43:11

The European Organization for Nuclear Research Is Looking for Artists

COLLIDE artists Semiconductor (2015). Photo: courtesy CERN and FACT.
date:2016-03-17 01:42:30

Scientifically-minded artists take note: There's an artists residency program just for you. CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva and the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (FACT) in Liverpool have announced an international open call for the newCOLLIDE International Award.

The prize is a three-month, fully-funded residency, split between the two organizations, and 15,000 Swiss Francs ($15,200). The winner will partner with a CERN scientist, and work closely with CERN and FACT staff on a proposed project.


"Our desire is to connect the worlds of leading scientists with international artists through 'creative collisions', encouraging both fields to inspire and challenge each other, and pushing the boundaries of their traditional roles and methodologies," said Monica Bello, head of Arts@CERN, in a statement.

TheArts@CERN program has long supported artists exploring the overlapping sectors of art and technology. The first COLLIDE residency program began in 2011, but this year's edition, which introduces the International Award, is the first to involve the FACT media arts center.

"Particle physics and the arts are inextricably linked: both are ways to explore our existence, what it is to be human and our place in the universe," it states on Arts@CERN's homepage.