An untitled Yayoi Kusama painting from 1962 is expected to bring between $7 million and $10 million when it hits the auction block at Sotheby’s contemporary evening sale in New York on May 16. If the work sells within its estimate, it will break Kusama’s auction record, which was set two years ago at Christie’s in New York, where her 1960 canvas White No. 28 was sold for $7.1 million. (Sales prices include buyer’s premium; estimates do not.) That sale made Kusama one of the world’s most expensive living female artist in terms of auction results.
Like much of Kusama’s work, Untitled showcases her interest in repeated patterns, which, she has said, can partly be attributed to her obsessional neurosis. Produced shortly after Kusama arrived in New York, the painting features egg crates arranged side by side, with upholstery stuffing in between the cartons and ink splattered on top of them. It is one of just a few works Kusama ever made using egg cartons; another similar work resides in the collection of the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Texas.
According to Sotheby’s, the work is being sold by an “important private collector.” It was notably included in Kusama’s traveling retrospective, which made stops at the Reina Sofia in Madrid, Tate Modern in London, and the Whitney Museum in New York, and was also shown in the 2009 Guggenheim Museum exhibition “The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860–1989.”