By Deb A.Yayoi Kusama, Dots Obsession (1998)
This week we pay tribute to three artists who have made us think about polka dots.
The only place to begin is with Yayoi Kusama, a Japanese avant-garde artist who has called herself the High Priestess of Polka Dots. Derived from the hallucinations she has experienced since her childhood, polka dots spill obsessively in 'infinity nets' over Kusama's paintings, sculptures, drawings, installations and fashion. Her vibrant dots have been showcased around the world, from the Tate Modern in London to the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, and have even found their way onto bookshelves in the form of her exquisite illustrations for the Lewis Carroll classic, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
"Polka dots are a way to infinity." –Yayoi Kusama
Damien Hirst, Benzyloxyurea (2011)
Damien Hirst's 1,365 spot paintings are, unlike Kusama's fanciful works, an industrial, commercial approach to art. Perfect bright dots gleam in militant succession; the gaps between the dots are generally the same size as the spots themselves. Hirst made only the first few spot paintings himself before passing the task on to assistants, who are instructed to never use the same colour twice in one piece.
Hirst is a controversial figure who is as much (and some would argue more) an entrepreneur as an artist – his conceptual art, which includes a dead shark in a case and a diamond-encrusted skull, has sold for millions. Love him or hate him, he's probably managed to get you to... we'll avoid the obvious pun. Currently in the works: a painting with one million spots.
Hervé Tullet, Press Here (2010)
Hervé Tullet's works don't hang in museums and tend to sell for under $20; he is an author and illustrator of children's books. His 2010 book, Un Livre (Press Here) begins with just one yellow dot and an instruction to 'press here'. Before long, readers of any age are hooked, making dots appear, change colours, grow and shuffle around the page with claps, shakes, and the firm press of a thumb. His audience may be slightly less sophisticated than gallery visitors, but one is never too young to fall in love with polka dots.
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