Stephanie Rosenthal on Yayoi Kusama
Play • 49 min
In episode 61 of The Great Women Artists Podcast, Katy Hessel interviews the esteemed curator and Director of Berlin's Gropius Bau, Dr Stephanie Rosenthal on the legendary artist, YAYOI KUSAMA!!!!

[This episode is brought to you by Alighieri jewellery: | use the code TGWA at checkout for 10% off!]

And WOW is this an incredible insight to the iconic Japanese artist, who works across film to painting, performance, sculpture to installation, drawing and collage, to her famous Infinity Mirror Rooms, who is about to be the subject of a MAJOR exhibition at Gropius Bau (curated by Stephanie!!). Info here:

Born in Matsumoto City, Japan in 1929, to parents who ran a plant factory, the young Kusama studied painting in Kyoto. Establishing herself in the Japanese art scene from her early twenties, it was after a brief correspondence with none other than GEORGIA O'KEEFFE in the 50s, that she abandoned her native country. She arrived in NYC in 1958, with a suitcase of drawings and one aspiration: “To grab everything that went on in the city and become a star”. 

Formidably ambitious, with “mountains of creative energy stored inside myself”, she succeeded. Situating herself amongst the cultural New York avant-garde elite, Kusama immediately began to make paintings evocative of the American style, as seen in her Infinity Net series. However, she went one step further with her microscopic, miniscule, repetitive and monochromatically coloured gestures that bridged both the emotive and visible brush mark of Abstract Expressionism and technical precision of Minimalism. 

She went on to create thousands of soft sculptures of in which phallic protrusions covered household objects. Kusama also pushed forward ways of working with performance, installation and underground films... however was often copied by her male contemporaries!

In 1973, she moved back to Japan, however in 1993, she returned to the spotlight when representing Japan at the Venice Biennale where she showcased all-encompassing mirror rooms. Re-catapulted to stardom in the western art world, Kusama today remains (arguably) the most famous female artist on the planet: between 2013–2018 she drew in FIVE MILLION visitors alone!



Stephanie's exhibition:
For those in NYC!
...and in LONDON THIS SUMMER! Museum collection!

Follow us:
Katy Hessel: @thegreatwomenartists / @katy.hessel
Sound editing by Winnie Simon
Artwork by @thisisaliceskinner
Music by Ben Wetherfield
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