Personal narratives are sometimes an important factor behind collectors buying an artist’s work. This is especially true for Kusama. I remember one conversation with a young collector couple about the artist. I asked them, “Why Kusama?”
Without hesitation, they said something along the lines of, “She’s badass. She does her own thing. She stayed true to herself and makes no apologies for it. She thumbed her nose at the world and waited for the world to come to her.” The visual and the emotional merged for this couple, who bought the highest-quality work they could afford at the time, a drawing from the early 1960s. Stories about Kusama’s mental health issues and her fierce determination and longevity help some collectors understand her work and explain it to their friends. She still craves attention and dresses to remain unforgettable, wearing bright red wigs, outfits covered with polka dots, and goes about in a polka-dot encrusted wheelchair.
As her popularity increased, so did her production. She started using studio assistants and repeating older themes, especially infinity nets. She created work in different sizes, colors, and media, including new infinity rooms and large pumpkin sculptures. An infinity room at the Broad Museum
in Los Angeles is now a major tourist attraction and a destination of choice for selfies. Her work is perfect for Facebook and Instagram.