Born in Matsumoto, Japan, in 1929, Yayoi Kusama began her artistic education at the Kyoto School of Arts and Crafts. There, she studied Nihonga, a formal, traditional Japanese painting style that emerged in the Meiji period (1868–1912).
Following six solo exhibitions in Japan during her early artistic career, Kusama moved to New York in 1958, inspired by the rise of Abstract Expressionism in the United States. She was one of the first Japanese artists of her generation to make this move. Her early mobility, combined with her openly acknowledged history of mental illness, contributed to a highly visible, eccentric public persona.