Kusama was born in Matsumoto, Nagano, in 1929, and works at her studio in Tokyo.
She studied traditional Nihonga (Japanese-style) painting in Kyoto and moved to New York City in 1958. There, she was active in avant-garde circles during the formative years of pop art and minimalism, exhibiting her work alongside such artists as Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg and Allan Kaprow figures who have cited Kusama as influential to the development of assemblage, environmental art and performative practices.
Kusama exhibited widely in Italy, Germany and the Netherlands in the mid-’60s, participating in exhibitions with artists associated with Nul, Zero and the New Tendency in Europe, where she began developing her interest in the optics and interactive elements of mirrors, electric lights, sound and kinetics.
Kusama’s fame grew in the late 1960s through her radical antiwar happenings, which espoused nudity and polka dots in the streets of New York. Because of ongoing struggles with her health, Kusama returned to Japan in 1973, where she has since resided. In recent years, Kusama has achieved celebrity status as well as tremendous critical respect.
Some of her most recent exhibitions: Museo de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Museo Tamayo, México D.F.; Whitney Museum, New York; Tate Modern, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Moderna Museet, Sweden.