Marc Jacobs Recruits Yayoi Kusama for Latest Louis Vuitton Collaboration

Marc Jacobs Recruits Yayoi Kusama for Latest Louis Vuitton Collaboration
Artist Yayoi Kusama
(Courtesy of the Artist)

Louis Vuitton creative director Marc Jacobs has tapped the legendary Japanese polka-dot painter Yayoi Kusama as the company's latest artist collaborator, most likely with an eye toward the Japanese market, one of the world's largest for luxury goods.

Kusama worked with Jacobs (who visited her studio in Japan in 2006) on a line of Louis Vuitton products, including leather goods, ready-to-wear, accessories, shoes, watches, and jewelry, reports WWD. The items are scheduled to premiere at Louis Vuitton stores in early July, with window installations specially designed to mark the collaboration.

This year will be a big one for the 82-year-old Kusama. January 9 is the last day of a Centre Pompidou retrospective in Paris, which goes on view from February 9 to June 5 at the Tate Modern in London. From there, the survey will head to the Whitney in New York, where it will remain from July 12 to September 30. Both the Tate Modern and Whitney shows are sponsored by Louis Vuitton.

The multimedia artist, whose electric-hued wigs and bangs define her look, is known for her polka dots, phallic references (she covered ladders, chairs, and shoes with such protrusions in the ‘60s), nude performance pieces, and several novels, including “Double Suicide at Skuragazuka” (1989). Gagosian Gallery has shown her work in nine exhibitions since 2007. 

Although she's had a great deal of success (one of her "Infinity Net" works, the 1959 drawing "No. 2," briefly held the record for highest price bid on the work of a living female artist when it was auctioned at Christie's in 2008 for $5.1 million), Kusama has long struggled with mental illness. Since 1977 she has remained voluntarily institutionalized at a psychiatric facility, the Seiwa Hospital in Tokyo, located near her studio, where she spends her free time creating paintings, sculptures, and installations.

Kusama, a celebrated feminist, is the first female artist to collaborate on a line of products for Louis Vuitton. Jacobs has collaborated with a number of artists since his start at the brand in 1997, including Richard Prince, the late Stephen Sprouse (who had an exhibition at Deitch Projects during the reissue of his Louis Vuitton collaboration in 2009), and Takashi Murakami, who injected the company’s signature quatrefoil and monogram pattern with bright colors, friendly flowers, and cartoon eyeballs. The Murakami partnership was a huge success in 2003.