It was in 2006 that Marc Jacobs encountered Yayoi Kusama in Tokyo. Art collector Marc Jacobs is a fan of Kusama’s sculptures and paintings: “the obsessive character and the innocence of her artwork touch me. She succeeds in sharing her vision of the world with us.” The admiration is mutual: Kusama, whose works include many performances which examine clothing and the body, has a profound respect for Marc’s creativity. A photo of this encounter is today hanging on the wall of the Kusama Studio in Tokyo.
The starting points for the collection were obsession and seriality. The
iconic Louis Vuitton leather goods, ready-to-wear, shoes, accessories,
watches and jewellery became the supports for Kusama’s organic
repetitive patterns. Treated in vigorous and hybrid colours, the polka
dots cover the products infinitely. All over, express the unlimited
possibilities of playing with scales, colours and densities. When the
“kusamesque” figure comes to life, the patterns ripple and lead the eye
into a stroboscopic game. No middle, no beginning and no end: this
hallucinatory proliferation will also be relayed in the Louis Vuitton
windows worldwide decorated with emblematic motifs: biomorphic shaped
“nerves” sculptures for windows named “BEGINNING OF THE UNIVERSE”;
flowers entitled “ETERNAL BLOOMING FLOWERS IN MY MIND” and especially
red polka dots on white background among which Kusama figures named
“SELF-OBLITERATION” can be spotted. For the artist, who sees her life as
“a dot lost among millions of other dots”, this collaboration will
allow her to spread her polka dots infinitely across the world and
convey her message: “Love Forever”. “It enables her to increase her
audience and that of contemporary art in general, concludes Marc Jacobs.
The task Louis Vuitton has always set itself.” [ text source
Yayoi Kusama the Pop Artist how produced the biggest visual boom on Luis Vuitton image.
At 83, the beyond-prolific artist wasn’t overstating her career. A
beacon in the avant-garde, Pop Art, minimalist and feminist art
movements, the Japanese artist’s portfolio includes painting, collage,
sculpture, performance art and environmental installations. Georgia
O’Keeffe helped her find her way to the New York art scene where Kusama
influenced artists such as Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg, and hit the
Hamptons with Mark Rothko and other creative pals. During her 15-year
stay in the States, Kusama left quite an impression. Widely known for
her polka dots and her naked performers, she staged the Grand Orgy to
Awaken the Dead at the Museum of Modern Art and presided over the
Homosexual Wedding at the Church of Self-Obliteration at 33 Walker
Street. She even wrote to former President Richard Nixon offering a
sexual romp if he would stop the Vietnam War.
A few years after moving back to Japan in 1973, Kusama checked into the
Seiwa Hospital for the Mentally Ill, where she continues to live by
choice and work tirelessly. Kusama has returned to New York this week
for the first time in decades, thanks to a collaboration with Louis
Vuitton and her retrospective at the Whitney, which bows Thursday.
Wearing her polka dot Louis Vuitton scarf, and a polka dot dress her
team helped design, she graciously thanked Louis Vuitton chairman and
chief executive officer Yves Carcelle for giving her reason to return to
New York. The gratitude appeared to be mutual as Carcelle told her
early on in their conversation that he owns one of her paintings from
Another one of her paintings from that period sold at Christie’s for
$5.1 million a few years ago, a record for any living female artist. And
the octogenarian shows no signs of easing up. “I painted everything
myself and I am very proud of that. I have done 200 paintings recently —
only some of them are in the gallery downstairs,” Kusama said. “My legs
hurt because of the years and years [I have spent] standing while
painting. Now I am in a wheelchair [albeit a polka dot-covered one]. The
doctor is taking care of my knees. He said he can fix them.”
Y.K.: My mother was against me being an artist. She just wanted me to
marry a rich man. She was so angry when I started painting that she
never gave me any money to continue. Other people helped me financially
and bought my paintings. Georgia O’Keeffe proposed that I live with her.
She was in New Mexico then and I wanted to be in New York.
WWD: How have you managed to be so prolific?
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Y.K.: When I decided to go to the States, I
burned all of my paintings from the previous 10 years. I didn’t want my
family to throw them away because they were against the idea of me
becoming an artist. I don’t know why I am so prolific. You should ask my
hands. When I paint, some things come out and I don’t know. Maybe it’s
because I have such talent as a painter. I am so happy about that. Here
in New York, so many people are happy to see me. It moves me a lot. I
don’t know where my energy comes from. It’s my hands that create faster
than my head. It’s just the way it is.
WWD: You once said that had it not been for art you would have killed yourself. Do you still feel that way?
Y.K.: I feel that way exactly. There’s not one day that I don’t think
about death. The fact that I paint helps me to keep these ideas away and
WWD: Why do you choose to live in the psychiatric hospital?
Y.K.: Because I am sick. It is difficult for me to be alone and I feel relaxed being surrounded by people.
WWD: In the Sixties, you stayed in a hospital due to overworking. Now
that you live in a hospital, you seem to be working more than ever. How
is that so?
Y.K.: I think that if I didn’t live in the hospital, I couldn’t continue
painting. I have hallucinations and these symptoms. The fact that I
feel safe in my surrounding allows me to keep painting.
WWD: Do you think art needs to be more commercial or to have corporate
support from companies like Louis Vuitton in order to reach more people?
Y.K.: I will be an artist until the end of my life. If with the power of
art, we can touch the hearts of people, it’s a wonderful thing so why
not with the help of business. In that sense for me, business can also
be a sort of art especially in the fashion world.
WWD: Why do you think you and Marc Jacobs get along so well?
Y.K.: Marc Jacobs came to see me in Tokyo in 2006 and he asked me if I
wanted to come to the States and do fashion. That sort of encouraged me.
At that time, I was writing poems and novels. Fashion has always
attracted me, not only when I was living in New York but also when I was
five. I created this T-shirt that was half red and half white. For me,
it was a sculpture. I was so honored when Marc came to see me in Tokyo. I
still have a photo of that visit hanging on the wall of my studio. We
are standing with one of my creations, this huge pumpkin, between us.
WWD: How do you define beauty?
Y.K.: It’s myself. The definition of beauty is me.…In this world full of
terrorism, war and things like that, I think art helps a lot. But I
also think that fashion, like what Louis Vuitton does, helps a lot
because it proposes a view of beauty to the world. The most important
thing in the world is peace, happiness and love because the world around
us has such hatred. If I can contribute as an artist, that is how I
would like to use my life. I think as an artist I can deliver messages. [article from http://www.wwd.com]
" In August 2012 Selfridges London launched an exciting UK exclusive and
the largest store collaboration to date with Yayoi Kusama and Louis
Vuitton, taking over our legendary windows and Concept Store.
Louis Vuitton collaborated with the illustrious Japanese artist to
create a collection of must-have handbags, ready-to-wear, travel bags,
shoes and accessories featuring Kusama’s iconic bright, repetitive
patterns. Selfridges London was the only place in the UK to house the
exclusive second drop of the Kusama Monogram collection and marked the
occasion with an unprecedented 24-window design by Yayoi Kusama. Yayoi
Kusama and Louis Vuitton also transformed the ever-changing Concept
Store with her signature giant pumpkins, setting the scene for a
showcase of the collection. To top this off, a giant statue of Kusama,
measuring a mighty 13 foot tall and weighing in a half a tonne was
installed to mark the exclusive collaboration." selfridges.com
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