Yayoi Kusama.MASATOSHI OKAUCHI/SHUTTERSTOCK
Has there ever been a more unlikely artist sensation than Yayoi Kusama? Today, she’s known best for her “Infinity Rooms”—large-scale enclosed environments that have become Instagram fodder, with their endless reflections of reflections, polka-dotted surfaces, and glittering lights luring droves of people in search of selfies, transcendence, and more.
But the recent Kusama craze has obscured what landed her in art history in the first place—namely, her boundary-pushing ’60s-era sculptures, performances, and photographs intended as reactions against a male-dominated world and expressions of her own psyche. During the time these works were made, they placed Kusama at the center of a new avant-garde emerging in New York, where she was based from 1958 to 1975.