Louis Vuitton’s Marc Jacobs is well known for his love of popular culture and Japanese avant-garde art [remember his 2002 Louis Vuitton collab with Takashi Murakami?]. Jacobs is, once again, colliding the world of art with the world of luxury accessories via Louis Vuitton’s new range (available July 2012) of Kusama-branded polka dot pieces “Love Forever.”
Kusama, born in 1929, is considered Japan’s greatest living female artist. She has been at the forefront of avant-garde art since her days living in New York in the late 50’s to early 70’s. (She rivalled Andy Warhol for press interest at the time). Her time in New York was prolific for her work, but deleterious for her physical and mental states – she is known to have worked obsessively, without sleep, for days on end and she was hospitalized regularly for exhaustion. She returned to Japan in 1972, due to ill health and, in 1977, checked herself into a sanitarium, where she has lived ever since by choice. She still works on her art every day – each morning, she travels to her studio near the sanitarium in Shinjuku, Tokyo, and she, with her many assistants, work until the evening, when she returns to the Seiwa Hospital for the Mentally Ill.
Kusama’s work has performed strongly at auction throughout her career: top prices for her work are for paintings from the late 1950s and early 1960s. As of 2012, her work has the highest turnover of any living woman artist.In November 2008, Christie’s New York sold a 1959 white “Infinity Net ” painting formerly owned by Donald Judd, No. 2, for $5,100,000, then a record for a living female artist.
Kusama’s trademark is the polka dot – she embeds them into the majority of her work as a symbol of the infinite quality of all existence. Of her use of polka dots she has said “…a polka-dot has the form of the sun, which is a symbol of the energy of the whole world and our living life, and also the form of the moon, which is calm. Round, soft, colorful, senseless and unknowing. Polka-dots become movement… Polka dots are a way to infinity.”
It is Kusama’s love of polka dots that Louis Vuitton’s Artistic Director, Marc Jacobs, wanted to capture in Vuitton’s “Love Forever.” As Jacobs says of the collaboration “…this will bring the work of Kusama to still yet another audience, a new venue, a new place, to see this work and come to appreciate it through the eyes of Vuitton.”
“The dots represent something that has no points, no hard edges, and is infinite. And what could be nicer than infinite love?” ~ Marc Jacobs
Another of Kusama’s trademarks is the pumpkin, which she feels represents her alter-ego and is a type of self-portrait. Vuitton has also utilized this pumpkin motif literally, as seen in its upcoming pumpkin minaudière replica of Kusama’s 1994 “Pumpkin” sculpture.
Kusama fans can view a retrospective of her work at The Tate in London until July, after which it moves to The Whitney in New York until September 30, 2012.
A new feature film documentary on Kusama’s life and art “Kusama: Princess of Polka Dots” is now in post-production and accepting donations to aid in the completion of the project. Please visit http://kusamadocumentary.com/ for more info.
For more info on Vuitton’s Kusama collection, visit: http://www.louisvuittonkusama.com/en_WW