In honor of one of the few, living legends of contemporary art and sculpture, comes the documentary film Kusama: Infinity, a rare peek behind the curtain at the life of Yayoi Kusama, one of the world’s most popular and most highly paid artists—one who has spent much of her career shrouded in mystery.
The film, directed by Heather Lenz, gives viewers a history of the Japanese artist through pieced interviews with curators, friends, and Kusama herself. Depicting a sheltered and restrictive upbringing in Japan, the documentary explores the reasoning as to why artist moved to NYC in the 1950s at age 27—including a letter of encouragement she once received from fellow artist Georgia O'Keeffe in the mail.
For an artist whose work is renowned both in her home country of Japan and far beyond its borders, the film is one of the most comprehensive looks into the artist’s past, perhaps shedding light on how her life experiences have influenced her art. Attempting to break into a foreign art scene which was and still remains primarily dominated by white men, the film aims to explore how Kusama remains undervalued as an artist. Citing names like Claes Oldenburg and Andy Warhol, Kusama reveals a number of instances in which her art may have been imitated. Along with the artist’s struggles surrounding finding footing in the NYC art scene in the 1950s and 1960s, the film explores her history of mental illness as well.
To coincide with the release of the film, David Zwirner Books has published Yayoi Kusama: Festival of Life, with text written by art historian Jenni Sorkin. It serves as a documentation of Kusama’s own exhibition at David Zwirner in NYC and features images from works such as large-scale flower sculptures and the Infinity Mirror Rooms. Whether you decide to check out the movie or pick up a copy of the book, Kusama is an artist whose life and accomplishments are worth experiencing.