Seeing spots: Yayoi Kusama Exhibition at Tate Modern

The polka dot-obsessed octogenerian artist Yayoi Kusama’s work has gone from free love and foraging in the 50s and 60s to infinity rooms filled with mirrors and twinkling lights in this decade. Her life has seen body parties in Andy Warhol’s Factory and friendships with Georgia O’Keeffe, Donald Judd and Joseph Cornell – and this retrospective takes it all in. At Tate Modern, London from 9 February to 5 June 2012. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian.

The octogenarian artist photographed in front of Yellow Trees (1994). This is the first time Kusama has left Japan in 12 years.

Kusama poses for a photograph with her artwork Love Arrives at the Earth Carrying with It a Tale of the Cosmos (2009).

From 1961 onwards, Kusama began her Accumulation series, using everything from shoes to sofas that she found on forages through the streets of New York, and repurposing them to become phallic, flowery, or macaroni-based landscapes.

Closeup of Accumulation works.

Air Mail Stickers (1962), an early example of Kusama’s accumulated assemblage work.

Aggregation: One Thousand Boats Show (1963). This work was Kusama’s first ever installation, with its phallic-reminiscent rowing boat floating on a wall-to-wall sea of similarly shaped paper boats.

The Clouds (1984, foreground) and Heaven and Earth (1991, background).

I’m Here, But Nothing (2000). In this installation, fluorescent strip lights bring thousands of Day-Glo polka dots to life. In one corner, Kusama oversees proceedings from a TV screen and serenades viewers.

Detail of the dining room setup in I’m Here, But Nothing.

Christmas comes very early in the light installation Infinity Mirrored Room – Filled with the Brilliance of Life (2011), in which dangling dots glint and change colour and endlessly repeat as they retreat away from you.

The changing colour of the blinking lights brings a Kryptonite glow to Infinity Mirrored Room – Filled with the Brilliance of Life.

The 82-year-old artist talks through her selection of paraphernalia at the Tate preview.

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