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Encapsulating the iconic primary technique of contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama’s practice, this collection features her dot artworks at their most abstract. In the following prints, the productive range of the artist’s dots shines through, as they compose cell-like patterns, polka dot prints, and waves that recall the contours of her Pumpkins.

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Meaning & Analysis

It is beyond dispute that artist Yayoi Kusama’s most iconic innovation are her dots. Dots are the trademark of the contemporary Japanese artist, such that she has acquired the nickname ‘Princess of Polka Dots’. This collection features her Dots prints at their most abstract.

Free of figurative context, Yayoi Kusama’s early Dots and Infinity Nets paintings radically reinvented the wild gestural style of other (mostly male) Abstract Expressionists, showing, by her highly meticulous, yet hypnotically expansive canvases, that other voices could produce gripping abstract artworks, too. It is not surprising then, that they have come to define Kusama’s oeuvre as a whole, influencing many of her works since. That is, even by the artist’s own account: “This was my epic, summing up all I was. And the spell of the dots and the mesh enfolded me in a magical curtain of mysterious, invisible power” (from Yayoi Kusama’s 2011 autobiography, Infinity Net, Tate Publishing).

Yayoi Kusama’s patterns, including her Dots, are visually sublime, but they also serve a functional role for the artist: her repetitious painting of dots and other recurrent patterns is a means of coping with her experiences of hallucination, which, as a child manifest in the form of terrifying visions of bright lights, spots, and other obliterating patterns. Kusama states that, ‘Our earth is only one polka dot among a million stars in the cosmos’. Thus, her dots are a means of grounding the self peacefully in what could otherwise be a frightening existential realisation. Kusama’s dots represent the artist’s universe-encompassing spiritual beliefs, which she embodies in her life and art.

In the following prints, the dots’ varied potential shines through, as Kusama composes a variety of patterns from the cell-like— Polka Dot Accumulation— to regular and irregular polka dots—Dots Obsession and Dots Infinity, respectively. Some prints in the Dots collection are self-conscious of their seminal status, referencing other important bodies of work from Kusama’s career. Dots Infinity, a 2003 woodcut, for example, recalls Kusama’s iconic Pumpkins, with its yellow and black colour scheme and polka dot evocation of 3-dimensional ridges and curves.

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