Yayoi Kusama, *1929
“Polka dots can’t stay alone,” Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama once said of her attraction to the pattern that dominates her work. A fixture of the 1960s New York avant-garde scene, Kusama has long held that obsessive-compulsive disorder fuels her creativity.
Kusama returned to Japan in the early 1970s. Shortly afterward, she chose to move into a mental hospital. She still lives there today, producing new art from a nearby studio. A 2012 retrospective of her work featured abstract paintings, sculptures covered in phallic shapes and installations like the light-filled “Firefly on the Water.” “I have been grappling with art as a therapy for my disease,” she said in an interview. “I create art for the healing of all mankind.”