Polka dots, big brands and old age
Hi Victoria I'm late to the party in replying to your very well done Kusama post - sorry if I'm responding in the wrong section. Anyway my thoughts re: Kusama and Vuitton are similar to those shared a while back re: Tracey Emin. These artists seem more fragile than your average (fragile) human being given their psychological states/challenges. I'd like to think, as you suggest, that Kusama is fully at the helm but my my spidey sense says, no. I think she's become too successful at lining pockets and now is encouraged to continue to do so. Who knows, right? But it's clear she lost her innovative edge some decades ago. Was in Paris in April and saw the gargantuan (2 story? 3?) sculpture of Kusama and paintbrush in front of LV and while I took photos like everyone else my initial reaction was disgust. My post-initial reaction was disgust as well :) Too bad we can't ask Yayoi. Thanks for your post.
The same reiteration in the upcoming Manchester International Festival which for many years has certainly not been "all new work" but no one seems to be mentioning that. Find it staggering that her racism is totally glossed over by the art world, I'm doing a lot of work in the (ignored) ethics of art at the moment and whilst I'm focusing on street art commissions, Kusama is a perfect example of wilful ignorance. I feel like galleries will be all over it once she's dead - putting on chin stroking racism discussions about separating art from the artist but for now, she brings in so much money that no one dares.
I love hearing Kim talk about her art. I think too often people forget that abstract art is trying to tell us something that may be deeper than what we see on the surface. I really like the way she talks about negative space and her color palette as well as they way they link to her ideas/feelings in regards to the pandemic and her father's passing.
Relatedly, I think Kusama's work is beautiful and perhaps really necessary in 'these times.' It's refreshing to see so much fun and color. I agree with Lisa's comments about Warhol and seeing art in person as well. Why not let people have a joyous experience...and call it art? And I also think, why not let them take a little art with them (although I can't afford the LV bags). It also should make people think about an artist's place in society: why should it not be at the top vs in the margins?
Thanks so much for linking to my post here. I think there's a lot we could discover through the implicit connections with the Japanese artists you discuss.
I remember being completely uninterested in Warhol's celebrity portraits until I saw them in a retrospective and I found his choices for color, materials (glitter--who knew?), scale and line-work very engaging. And affirming, like it's OK to use glitter if you're painting a portrait of Diana Ross, why wouldn't you? I try to hold off judgment on popular artists until I see the work in person. If artists get paid for their work and design concepts, I have no problem with that. Artists should be paid a fair price for their ideas and time. Art is not an after-thought, it's an essential aspect of our humanity and how we understand the world.
Great post Victoria. I don't know why the art world/artists love to hate Kusama. When Murakami did his wildly successful collab with Vuitton, there were no articles written about how he was a sell out. I went to the opening at MOCA where Kanye West was playing and Murakami was inside signing ladies handbags and people were mobbing him and some were crying (to be in his presence?) Anyway, it doesn't seem fair to me. She has more than paid her dues and whether the collaboration is a commercial sell out, it gets her name in front of millions who might not even know about her. Personally I don't have a problem with it.
Really interesting to hear about Kusama's earlier career, she did some crazy stuff! I'm not a huge fan of the work she does now. I saw the Infinity Room at Tate Modern and I can kinda see what the critics were talking about.
Love Kim Fay's work! Really enjoying being introduced to artists who are readers of your newsletter. Brilliant idea. Thanks!
I saw Kusama infinity room here in Rome in 2016. I knew nothing about her or the work & there was no hype or lines or Instagrammers. A brusque lady informed us we had to enter alone and spend a very specific amount of time inside, per the artist’s instructions. It was pretty and immersive & disorienting. I loved it.
Now we have “museums” that are just room after room of a knock-off of her concept. Like a Hitchcock tracking shot I think we have become inured to the innovation.
Thanks for the documentary mention, I forgot that was on my watch list.
I think art has been commodified so much that it makes little difference that Kusama's art is being sold in this way. She's an amazing artist and the obsessive nature of some of her work may well be to do with her state of mind, given her mental illnesses. Her ideas are still stimulating and her use of colour is a visual feast. As with all art, you can't please all of the people all of the time! Thanks for this piece, it was really interesting.