compulsion furniture

Yayoi Kusama Japanese, born 1929

LADDER   1963

Mixed media

Throughout a long and prolific career, Yayoi Kusama maintains that the primary theme of her work, an endless repetition of form and shape, exists not as a creative choice but a necessary act used to control the symptoms of a mental disorder. As a child, Kusama battled with visual hallucinations of patterns covering entire rooms and overtaking her. To combat this, she used art, obsessively repeating minute patters and forms to create a reality she could control. In the early 1960s, she began a series of “Compulsion Furniture,” of which Ladder is one. Ladders, chairs, and other everyday objects were covered in shoes and stuffed, phallic forms, and then thickly laden with white or off-white paint. This process not only fulfilled the artist’s obsessive-compulsive drive, but simultaneously defies male dominance by appropriating sexually-charged symbols. The resulting “furniture” objects relate to Pop art in their incorporation of common domestic items (found furniture, socks, and shoes), but also stand as physical manifestations of Kusama’s uniquely troubled aesthetic.