Friday 08th July 2016Kusama Boosts Your Airbnb
If you're unaware of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, you may have been living under a rock for the last 50 years - or perhaps your artist awakening took place during a very few specific years when her practice had quieted down quite a bit (or maybe you're just not a particular fan of polka dots and you've repressed everything about them). She's the venerable queen of all things spotted, and has had an impressively long career, as we explored in an Artist Spotlight piece on her quite a while ago.
As her visibility ramps back up again, she's currently working in a partnership with the (in)famous disruptive hotel startup Airbnb and the Tate Modern Britain. For those of you unaware of it, Airbnb is a startup company that allows average people to rent out their spare rooms or spare homes/cottages using their website. It's totally shaken up the hotel industry and inspired a number of people to leverage the new system in brand new ways.
Of course, part of that means that there is a great deal of competition in the more popular areas of the world, including London, Paris and New York. Needless to say, it's always nice to have an edge over the competition, whether it's better amenities for your guests or proximity to popular locales, but there are few things that can top having your rental rooms decorated by a famous artist.
That's exactly what the partnership is putting together, and the decisions are going to made via a lottery-type contest conducted by the Tate Modern Britain. Unfortunately for all those of you just reading about it now the contest closed on May 10th, 2016, but it will still be fascinating to see the results of her work (not to mention how much the lucky winner decides to charge for sleeping inside a work of art).
It turns the whole notion of a 'boutique hotel' on its head, considering the fact that some of Kusama's work has sold at auction for millions of dollars US. If you're living in London, expect to see an especially incredible listing popping up somewhere on Airbnb in the next few months, although there is no word on when the project is due to be completed.
Posted on July 08th 2016 on 08:43pm
Friday 01st May 2015Artist Spotlight: Yayoi Kusama
Yayoi Kusama is probably the most influential artist that you've never heard of. There are any number of reasons why you may not have run across her before, unless you're a devotee of the early 1970s abstract expressionist art movement that was quite popular in New York City around that time. Recently, however, someone got around to tallying up the attendance numbers of her work in 2014, and the numbers seem to showcase something rather extraordinary. Her works attracted an astonishing 2 million viewers in the year 2014, which easily makes her the most popular artist in the world for that year.
Stop and think about that for a second. Not only is it a wildly impressive statistic, it is even more poignant for the fact that most people under the age of 60 have probably never heard of her before. She influenced a number of genres and artists that you have heard of, however, including Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, the entire abstract expressionist movement and the ridiculous joy we have all come to know and love as Pop Art.
So where did she come from? No artist emerges from a vacuum, and Yayoi is no exception. Born in Japan to a family of merchants in 1929, she rebelled against the prescribed life her family offered and opted to become an artist. Frustrated with the exquisitely beautiful but conservative nature of the Japanese art scene of the time, she decided to move to New York City in the late 1950s and began to work in the abstract expressionist style that was a major theme in American art at the time. When the 1960's hippie movements kicked off in full force by the end of the decade, she was well positioned to incorporate the free-spirited nature of the age, and gained recognition with works that blended performance art, exhibits and exhibitionism. The 'happenings', as they were termed, tended to involve a crowd of naked participants festooned with polka dots, which was naturally quite risque for the time.
Unfortunately, like many creative types, she found herself experiencing psychiatric problems, and voluntarily admitted herself to a care facility in her native Japan, although she still continues to produce works from within that environment. She should also be credited for incredible staying power - at age 86, she's still putting on shows and exhibitions around the world! Her newest solo show will be opening on September 17th at the Louisiana Modern Art Gallery in the United States.
Posted on May 01st 2015 on 03:46pm