The Ultimate Culture Guide 2009: K

Kusama

Now in her 80th year, the ever obsessive and eccentric Yayoi Kusama shows few signs of slowing. The Japanese artist—who came to prominence in the sixties, organizing body-painting festivals, avant-garde fashion shows, and antiwar protests—is enjoying a resurgence. She now shows with the biggest of the big boys, Gagosian Gallery, which is exhibiting her recent work in New York (through June 27) and Los Angeles (May 30–July 18). This past November her 1959 painting No. 2, from the iconic “Infinity Nets” series, sold for close to $6 million at Christie’s, a record for her at auction. And she has an internationally touring exhibition, “Mirrored Years” (at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, through June 8), featuring the dots, nets, mirrors, and mind-bending installations that have remained constants in her art. “Over the years so many artists have tried to appropriate her into their movements,” says Jaap Guldemond, a curator at the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam, where the show began. “But Kusama is totally individual. She just keeps making what feels right to her.”