Started to paint using polka dots and nets as motifs at around age ten ,and created fantastic paintings in watercolors, pastels and oils.
Went to the United States in 1957. Showed large paintings, soft sculptures, and environmental sculptures using mirrors and electric lights. In the latter 1960s, staged many happenings such as body painting festivals, fashion shows and anti-war demonstrations. Launched media-related activities such as film production and newspaper publication. In 1968, the film “Kusama's Self-Obliteration"which Kusama produced and starred in won a prize at the Fourth International Experimental Film Competition in Belgium and the Second Maryland Film Festival and the second prize at the Ann Arbor Film Festival. Held exhibitions and staged happenings also in various countries in Europe.
Returned to Japan in 1973. While continuing to produce and show art works, Kusama issued a number of novels and anthologies. In 1983, the novel “The Hustlers Grotto of Christopher Street" won the Tenth Literary Award for New Writers from the monthly magazine Yasei Jidai.
In 1986, held solo exhibitions at the Musee Municipal, Dole and the Musee des Beaux-Arts de Calais, France, in 1989, solo exhibitions at the Center for International Contemporary Arts, New York and the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, England. In 1993, participated in the 45th Venice Biennale.
Began to create open-air sculptures in 1994. Produced open-air pieces for the Fukuoka Kenko Center, the Fukuoka Municipal Museum of Art, the Bunka-mura on Benesse Island of Naoshima, Kirishima Open-Air Museum and Matsumoto City Museum of Art, , in front of Matsudai Station, Niigata,TGV's Lille-Europe Station in France, Beverly Gardens Park, Beverly hills, Pyeonghwa Park,
Anyang and a mural for the hallway at subway station in Lisbon.
Began to show works mainly at galleries in New York in 1996. A solo show held in New York in the same year won the Best Gallery Show in 1995/96 and the Best Gallery Show in 1996/97 from the International Association of Art Critics in 1996.
From1998 to 1999, a major retrospective of Kusama's works which opened at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art traveled to the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Walker Art Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo.
In 2000, Kusama won The Education Minister's Art Encouragement Prize and Foreign-Minister's Commendations. Her solo exhibition that started at Le Consortium in France in the same year traveled to Maison de la culture du Japon, Paris, KUNSTHALLEN BRANDTS ÆDEFABRIK, Denmark, Les Abattoirs, Toulouse, KUNSTHALLE Wien, Art Sonje Center, Seoul.
Received the Asahi Prize in 2001, the Medal with Dark Navy Blue Ribbon in 2002, the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Officier), and the Nagano Governor Prize (for the contribution in the encouragement of art and culture) in 2003
In 2004, Her solo exhibition “KUSAMATRIX" started at Mori Museum in Tokyo. This exhibition drew visitors totaling 520,000 people. In the same year, another solo exhibition started at The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo In 2005, it traveled to The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Contemporary Art Museum, Kumamoto,
Matsumoto City Museum of Art.
Received the 2006 National Lifetime Achievement Awards, the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Losette and The Praemium Imperiale -Painting- in 2006.
In 2008, Documentary film : “Yayoi Kusama, I adore myself" released in Japan and also screened at international film festival and museum. Exhibition tour started at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, traveled to Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney in Australia in 2009, City Gallery Wellington in New Zealand. Conferred the honorary citizen of Matsumoto city.
Solo exhibition at Gagosian Gallery NY and LA, Victora Miro Gallery in London and Padiglione d'Arte Contemporanea in Milan. Honored as Person of Cultural Merits in Japan 2009.
In 2010, solo exhibition and permanent outdoor sculpture at Towada Art Center in Japan.?Participation to Sydney Biennale and Aichi Triennale. Solo exhibition at Victoria Miro Gallery in London, fiac in Paris.
2011, solo exhibition at Gagosian gallery (Roma), Victoria Miro Gallery (London). Europe and North America retrospective tour started at Museo
Nacional Centro De Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid traveling to Centre Pompidou
(Paris), TATE MODERN (London) and Whitney Museum (New York). Solo exhibition at Watari Art Museum (Tokyo). In September, participate in the 2011 Chengdu Biennale (China). Programmed solo exhibition at Queensland Art Gallery (Brisbane) in November.
2012, “Eternity of Eternal Eternity", recent works solo national traveling show started at National Museum of Art, Osaka traveled to The Museum of Modern Art, Saitama, Matsumoto City Museum of Art, Nagano, Niigata City Art Museum. In the next year, it travels to Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art, Oita Art Museum and Museum of Art, Koch. Solo exhibition at Victoria Miro Gallery (London). Shinjuku Honorary Citizen Award. The American Academy Of Arts and Letters Foreign Honorary Membership. Collaborated with Louis Vuitton creative director Marc Jacobs on collaborative collection “LOUIS VUITTON × YAYOI KUSAMA Collection".
2013, “Yayoi Kusama. Obsesión infinita [Infinite Obsession]", South America retrospective tour started at Malba - Fundacacion Constantini. It will travel to Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, Centro Cultutal Banco do Brasil, Brasília, Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo and Mexico City. “KUSAMA YAYOI, A Dream I Dreamed", recent works exhibition tour started at Daegu Art Museum, Korea. It will travel to the Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai, Seoul Arts Centre, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi.