eMusings - Four artists have caught my attention this month, so let's look in some depth at their work.

Yayoi Kusama is obsessed with dots, large, small, and all-encompassing. She exhibited at the 1993 Venice Biennale and claims that her passion for dots began with hallucinations experienced as a youngster. In 2006 she was awarded Japan's most coveted prize, the Praemium Imperiale. More of her work can be seen at the Gagosian Gallery online and in a YouTube video. For an article in the Guardian, she states that when she was ten years old "her visions of polka dots got her sent to a psychiatrist". After an additional seventy years and roughly 50,000 works of art, she feels that the polka dots actually rescued her. The Walker Art Museum gives some additional information on her extensive output.

Jonas Burgert produces large, enigmatic canvases featuring lurid colors and death-like figures. The Rocky Mountain News describes his palette as "Day-Glo" and "toxic", with images that touch the dark part of the soul, while the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver compares his outlook to the cataclysmic vision of Hieronymus Bosch. Using history as his source book, Burgert loves the world of the bizarre and the grotesque. He currently lives and works in Berlin.

Takashi Murakami has become a leading source of contemporary art in Japan and is especially active in promoting the careers of younger artists through his company Kaikai Kiki. Working with Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs, he has merged the fine art and commercial art worlds. In the same vein he makes no distinction between cartoons and "high" art. At the Geffen Contemporary Gallery at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles you can see a number of videos of Murakami talking about his work. Born in Tokyo in 1963, Murakami works as a curator, sculptor, entrepreneur, and student of Japanese society. In his biography, Murakami states "My art is not Pop art. It is the record of the struggle of the discriminated people." At takashi murakami dot com, the artist explains, "When I consider what Japanese culture is like, the answer is that it all is subculture. Therefore, art is unnecessary."

Christopher Payne photographs a world that most of us would rather not see or think about. The images in his book,"Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals", are crisp, unflinching, beautifully rendered. An architect as well as a photographer, he has spent years documenting the decaying buildings that house the failing minds within them. Payne confronts us with the grandeur of the architectural vision behind these buildings in contrast to the decrepit conditions they have fallen into. (Note: A more intensive look at Payne's book is provided this month at our Readers Feast page.)

c.Corinne Whitaker 2009