Yayoi Kusama's rare gold Infinity Net masterpiece to shine at Christie's HK

The M+ Museum in Hong Kong is currently presenting Yayoi Kusma: 1945 to Now, the largest retrospective of the renowned artist in Asia outside Japan, which has brought the Queen of Polka Dots to the forefront of the local art scene. 

This season, Christie's Hong Kong will present a rare gold-and-vermilion painting from her signature Infinity Net series. A magnificent triptych measuring 194 x 390.4 cm, Infinity Nets (TWHOQ) stands as a true museum-quality work, as most Infinity Net paintings of such scale are now housed in museum collections, leaving only a handful in private hands.

With an estimate between HK$28 and 38 million (around US$3.6 and 4.9 million), this rare work is bound to set the saleroom ablaze. 

Yayoi Kusma: 1945 to Now is currently on view at the M+ Museum in Hong Kong until 14 May 2023

Lot 18 | Yayoi Kusama | Infinity Nets (TWHOQ), Acrylic on canvas (triptych)
Created in 2006
Each: 194 x 130.3 cm
Overall: 194 x 390.9 cm

  • Private Collection, Asia
  • Acquired from the above by the previous owner circa 2013-2015
  • Christie’s Hong Kong, 25 May 2019, Lot 79
  • Acquired from the above sale by the current owner

Estimate: HK$28,000,000 - 38,000,000 (around US$3.6 and 4.9 million)

Yayoi Kusama as one of the most important artists of the century may be best known for her pumpkin sculptures, but among the art world, her Infinity Nets series is perhaps more recognized, with many examples held in renowned museum collections, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the National Gallery of Art in in Washington, D.C., and the National Museum of Art, Osaka, among other pre-eminent institutions. 

Born 1929 in post-war Japan, Kusama was the youngest of four children in a wealthy family. As a child, her love for art was discouraged by her abusive mother, who would frequently confiscated her inks and canvases.

During her childhood, Kusama began to repeatedly experience vivid hallucinations of kaleidoscopic patterns, memories of which she described: "I was always standing at the centre of the obsession, over the passionate accretion and repetition inside of me."

Yayoi Kusama made a name for herself in the New York art scene throughout the 1960s

Pacific Ocean, 183 x 183 cm | Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo

To seek creative freedom from the constraints of conventional Japan, Kusama landed in New York in 1958 in pursuit of a flourishing artistic career. 

The following year, when she exhibited her debut Infinity Net painting Pacific Ocean at Bruta Gallery, her avant-garde, intricate work was enthusiastically hailed by artists, collectors, and critics – some even likened it to the artworks of Jackson Pollock, a major figure in the American Abstract Expressionist movement. 

While she set foot firmly in the male-dominated art scene, Kusama remained a resilient rebel, one who refused to be labelled as part of any artistic movement. “My Infinity Net paintings and Accumulation work share different origins form the European monochrome works. They were about an obsession: infinite repetition,” she remarked.  

Yayoi Kusama started the Infinity Net series in New York

Despite her diagnosis with obsessive-compulsive disorder, mental illness is not the subject of her artworks, but rather the engine that fuels her creation. Her intensive artistic practice became a form of self-therapy, where she 'self-obliterate' hallucinatory visions through the process of compulsive reproduction of dots and arcs. 

As such, Inifinity Net became an iconic motif which she continues to depict over six decades of her artistic career, an emblem that paves the way for many of her sculptures and installations. 

Executed in 2006 during the artist's mature period, Infinity Nets (TWHOQ) is remarkable for its rare colour palette of gold and vermilion. It was born out of a sight that fixated in the artist's mind when she first flew to Seattle in 1957. These gleaming gold loops of pigment create negative spaces around the vermilion dots, generating an undulating net field that mesmerizes the boundless expanse of shimmering ocean waves under the setting sun's beaming light.

Beneath the labyrinthine web of golden loops, the vibrant vermilion of the painting's ground spells a reach to eternity with the warmth of the sun, inviting viewers to delve into the cosmic depth. 

Close-up of Infinity Nets (TWHOQ)

Measuring 194 x 390.9 cm, the present lot could be compared to the Net Accumulation housed in the National Museum of Art, Osaka. The two artworks are both created in the form of triptych, but the latter, of 162 x 390 cm, is smaller than this Infinity Nets (TWHOQ)

Of museum-quality, the present work was included in Kusama’s acclaimed 2013 retrospective KUSAMA YAYOIA Dream I Dreamed, which toured internationally at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai, Seoul Arts Center, and the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung, among others. 

Net Accumulation, 162 x 390 cm | The National Museum of Art, Osaka

Auction Details:

Auction House: Christie's Hong Kong
Sale: 20th/21st Century Art Evening Sale
Date and Time: 30 November 2022 | 7:00 pm (Hong Kong Local Time)
Venue: Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre