Yayoi Kusama was born in 1929 in Matsumoto, Japan. Kusama briefly studied painting in Kyoto before moving to New York City in the late 1950s. Since her first solo show in her native Japan in 1952, the artist's work has been featured widely in both solo and group presentations. In the mid-1960s, she established herself in New York as an important avant-garde artist by staging groundbreaking and influential happenings, events, and exhibitions. Her work gained widespread recognition in the late 1980s after a number of international solo exhibitions, including shows at the Center for International Contemporary Arts, New York and the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, England, both taking place in 1989. She represented Japan in 1993 at the 45th Venice Biennale to much critical acclaim.

Previous major touring surveys include those organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1998); Le Consortium, Dijon, France (2000); National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (2004); and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2008). Her work was the subject of a large-scale and well-received retrospective, which traveled from 2011 to 2012 to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Tate Modern, London; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Kusama was recently named the world's most popular artist by various news outlets, based on annual figures reported by The Art Newspaper for global museum attendance in 2014. Her exhibitions were the most visited worldwide last year, with three major museum presentations simultaneously traveling through Japan, Asia, and Central and South America—all of which have drawn record-breaking attendances at every venue.

Kusama lives and works in Tokyo.