Polka dots have rarely been out of fashion: leaf through an old and battered vintage magazine from many decades ago or a fashion publication that came out yesterday and you will end up spotting mesmerising motifs of polka dots scattered on dresses or accessories. Some examples?
Yet polka dots will be fashionable also for the next winter, as seen in a previous post about MSGM's A/W 2016 collection in which we juxtaposed the polka dot texture of an Antonio Lopez's illustration from 1967 to a padded coat designed by the label's Creative Director, Massimo Giorgetti.
Quite often the use of polka dots in fashion derives indeed from arty inspirations, such as the graphically alluring Pop Art works by Roy Lichtenstein.
Influenced by comics, adverts and popular images, Lichtenstein's paintings and sculptures were characterised by primary colours, black outlines and hundreds of his signature Ben-Day dots.
Check out for example his mural-like artwork "Peace Through Chemistry I" (1970), a horizontal work divided in three yellow, red, blue, and black panels, featuring a microscope, gears, pulleys and test tubes. The artist came up on the panel on the right with a geometric profile of a man (rendered in superhero fashion...) holding a test tube.
Another figure in profile in the centre panel is examining instead the details of the leafy branch in the left panel through the eyepiece of a microscope (it is not clear if this was an ironical take since at the time the United States military used Agent Orange in Southeast Asia as part of a program to defeat the Vietcong or if the work was referencing the advertising slogan of DuPont, "Better Things for Better Living…Through Chemistry" or if the scientist examining a branch under his microscope is a reference to an olive branch of peace...).
A less intricate and more colourful example of Lichtenstein's work is the sculpture "Head with Blue Shadow" (1965), that a while back became the inspiration for an outstanding Pop Art make up tutorial by Illamasqua.
Curated by Jo Widoff, "In Infinity" will be the first major retrospective dedicated to Kusama's ouvre in Scandinavia and will span her entire body of work from the early 1950s to today.
The event will feature paintings, drawings, sculptures and large spatial installations, highlighting her connection with fashion.
As you may remember, Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton created a capsule collection inspired by Kusama in 2012, that was celebrated at the time by window installations that featured artworks by Kusama, but also mini dolls and a life-size wax figure of the artist, obviously lost in a sea of dots.
In Kusama's world, polka dots are linked with obsessions and hallucinations, but she also tried to give them positive meanings, stating they are an allegory of the human condition.
"The polka dot has the form of the sun representing masculine energy, the source of life. The polka dot has the form of the moon representing the feminine principle of reproduction and growth. Polka dots must always multiply to infinity. Our earth is only one polka dot among millions of others," the artist once stated, flattening out differences and uniting diverse bodies, objects and surfaces through her visually striking motifs.
In a way, Kusama's words reveal us what makes polka dots a trend that stands the test of times: polka dots do have the power of destabilising the establishment in an obsessively playful way, while representing at the same time togetherness and unity.
Image credits for this post
7. Yayoi Kusama, Installation view of Kusama in Infinity Mirror Room - Phalli's Field, at her solo exhibition "Floor Show" at R. Castellane Gallery, New York, 1965 © Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore, Victoria Miro Gallery, London, David Zwirner, New York
8. Yayoi Kusama, Yayoi Kusama with one of her Infinity Net paintings in New York, ca. 1961 © Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore, Victoria Miro Gallery, London, David Zwirner, New York
9. Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Mirrored Room - Hymn of Life, 2015 ©Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo, Victoria Miro Gallery, London and David Zwirner, New York. Photo: Vegard Kleven/HOK
10. Yayoi Kusama, Kusama with Pumpkin, 2010 © Yayoi Kusama. Installation View: Aichi Triennale 2010. Courtesy Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/ Singapore; Victoria Miro Gallery, London; David Zwirner, New York; and KUSAMA Enterprise
11. Yayoi Kusama, Louis Vuitton shop window display with Tentacles, 2012/2015 ©Yayoi Kusama/Louis Vuitton. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo, Victoria Miro Gallery, London and David Zwirner, New York. Photo: Vegard Kleven/HOK
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