Lot 198
  • 198

YAYOI KUSAMA | Immortal Soul

180,000 - 250,000 GBP
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  • Yayoi Kusama
  • Immortal Soul
  • signed, signed in Japanese and dated 1987 on the reverse
  • acrylic on canvas
  • 45.7 by 38.1 cm. 18 by 15 in.


Robert Miller Gallery, New York
Lars Bohman Gallery, Stockholm
Acquired from the above by the present owner


Stockholm, Lars Bohman Gallery, Yayoi Kusama, 1999


Colour: The colours in the catalogue illustration are fairly accurate. Condition: This work is in very good condition. Very close inspection reveals some evedence of light wear with some associated rub marks in isolated places along all four extreme edges and to all four extreme corner tips. Further very close inspection reveals some minute media accretions in isolated places. Examination under ultra violet light reveals some uneven fluorescence in isolated places towards the edges, which does not appear to be restoration.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Executed in the unmistakable pattern of dots and expansive nets that permeate her life and body of work, Yayoi Kusama’s Immortal Soul from 1987 is a scintillating example of the artist’s iconic compositions, which she has been working on and developing over the course of her decades long career. By 1987, the artist had returned to her native Japan after becoming an art world superstar in New York during the 60s and exhibiting worldwide in the 70s. The deaths of her partner Joseph Cornell in 1973 and her father in 1974 foreshadowed a period of introspection and meditative practice, during which the artist published much of her written work. By the 80s, however, she was ready to make her return to the art world; in 1981, Kusama’s work was included in a group exhibition at the National Museum of Modern Art both in Tokyo and Kyoto, and in 1987 – the same year in which Immortal Soul was executed – she was given her first major retrospective at the Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art in Fukuoka. Four years later, Kusama was the first woman to be invited to represent Japan at the Venice Biennale, an honour that confirmed her status as one of the most important artists of her time. In Immortal Soul bright orange and green dots permeate the surface to create an intricate filigree, ebbing and flowing to form a delicate and organic composition. Reminiscent of her works of the 1950s – those proto-Infinity Nets that were greatly inspired by the work of the Surrealists, particularly Joan Miró who Kusama discovered while receiving Nihonga training in Japan – the present work perfectly encapsulates the artist’s unique ability to expand on the motif that would become synonymous with herself and her practice. Her traditional training – and dexterity in the use of paint – are met here with extraordinary vision.

Plagued by neurosis since she was a child, Kusama first began painting infinity nets as images of her hallucinations and the apparent “veil” of dots that formed halos before her eyes and eclipsed her sight. The artist herself has explained how “[o]ne day, looking at a red flower-patterned table cloth on the table, I turned my eyes to the ceiling and saw the same red flower pattern everywhere… [t]he room, my body, the entire universe was filled with it, my self was eliminated, and I had returned and been reduced to the infinity of eternal time and the absolute of space” (Yayoi Kusama cited in: Laura Hoptman et al., Yayoi Kusama, London 2000, pp. 35-37). Thus the dotted pattern began as a compulsory release and reflection of her emotional psychology. Indeed, Immortal Soul is not merely a representation of an illusion, but rather a representation of Kusama herself. A natural, effortless osmosis has taken place, fusing symbol and artist into an inseparable identity and insoluble solution.

This work is registered with Yayoi Kusama Inc.