Overlooked for years by the art establishment, 83-year-old Yayoi Kusama's dotty vision is finally being recognised - and is at the heart of a major collaboration with Louis Vuitton.
Dots are a recurring theme in Yayoi Kusama's art, a visual representation of the hallucinations and anxiety attacks she has suffered from since childhood, so the show is dominated by giant red polka-dotted spheres, and a disorienting room in which huge white fiberglass tulips are covered in red dots - as are the white walls, ceiling and floor.
Since taking charge of the luxury fashion house Louis Vuitton in 1997, Jacobs - a keen art collector - has initiated collaborations with several contemporary artists, from Richard Prince to Takashi Murakami. But the partnership with Kusama, to be launched this month, has produced the most varied collection of products so far.
For the Vuitton collaboration, Yayoi Kusama's polka dots and the nerves pattern are featured on wallets, bags, sunglasses, scarves, bikinis and beach towels and clothes, the first of which are due in store this month. My favorites are a pair of red patent polka-dot heels that look as though they could be owned by Minnie Mouse, and a gorgeously soft, transparent mac covered in black dots.
'I've been active in many different spheres of the arts, whether it be writing novels, creating fashion or pure art by itself. What I would like to put across through all of my art is, I suppose, questions of what human life is, what humans are about, what the earth is about, what the universe is about. And the single message is, really, "love forever".'
It is these two words that adorn much of the merchandise for sale, and if that seems trite we should remind ourselves that Kusama lived through a devastating war and saw nuclear bombs wipe out two Japanese cities. For her it is no mere slogan: it is a message she has spent her life communicating, a struggle that has come at great personal cost. 'Love is the most important thing,' she says. 'Peace is a very important part, but if you wanted to sum it all up in one word, that word would be love.'
The Louis Vuitton/Yayoi Kusama collaboration will be in Louis Vuitton stores from Tuesday. A pop-up store will open in Selfridges, London, on August 24