Completely Dotty

Yayoi Kusama, detail Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: With Artwork by Yayoi Kusama, Penguin, 2012

Yayoi Kusama, detail Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: With Artwork by Yayoi Kusama, Penguin, 2012

“If it were not for art, I would have killed myself a long time ago.” Yayoi Kusama

On the subject of being crazy and creating mind-blowing art let’s talk Yayoi Kusama.

She came to prominence in the 70’s when she staged Body Festivals – naked people walking around clothed only in painted polka dots. And since then the dots have not stopped.

Polka dots are a way to infinity. Yayoi Kusama

Kusama leads the avant-garde contemporary art world. She checked herself into a Japanese mental institution in 1973 and since 1977 has called it home. She is escorted each day to her studio and is walked back to the hospital at night.

The Whitney now features an eye-popping retrospective of her work which you can browse when you click the picture above.  She’s a published poet and novelist. Louis Vitton partnered with her to make this fall’s hottest, spotted accessories.

Her latest work sold for $5.1 M, the highest amount for a living female artist.

Don’t know about you, but that doesn’t seem too crazy to me. Just badass.


The wizard behind the wizard

Joan Miro, Detail of Photo: This is the Color of my Dreams, 1925, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 

Photo: This Is the Color of My Dreams, 1925
Joan Miró (Spanish, 1893–1983)
The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection, 2002
© 2011 Successió Miró / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

I’ve never stopped to consider the color of my dreams.  If you asked me, I’d probably say just black and white.  Miró painted his blue. This painting isn’t what you’d normally expect from him, but he’s a Surrealist after all, so all bets are off.  It’s a simple composition like the two paintings previous, Tantric Art and Cy Twombly’s (blog post Passed Over).  And I think, quite a daring distillation.

We watch this lone washed spot of blue, deeply cryptic and cool. We read the words, enticingly enigmatic. Two simple mysteries at work here. A simple mystery? Ironic, huh? I tend to want a complicated mystery. Smoke and mirrors. Yet here, Miró distills his dreams to a single, curious blue. How could he do such a thing? What about all those disturbing images of teeth falling out of my mouth, or showing up to class naked, or avoiding being squashed by the big toe of God, or gasp, waking up in the arms of the wrong lover?

Because we dream that we are very complex and interesting people after all. Doesn’t your inner-soul cavern protect ancient runes?  That only the wisest seer among us can decipher (for $150 an hour). Yet with a wave of his brush, Miró banishes our mystery in a cloud of blue smoke.

Curiosity is this blue spot, motioning us to pull back the velvet curtain of our dreams, of our “self.”  Because we already know what we want to know about ourselves and others. It’s finding the courage to be curious. To ask. This painting, once enigmatic opens to a simple reality. Revealing that the wizard behind the great Oz is a blue you or me.