“To me, then, she was simply a kook,” Steven Heller of the Atlantic remembers. In the late ’60s, when he was a 17-year-old art director for the underground sex paper Screw, pre-fame Yayoi Kusama brought him her photos of “gaggles of naked hippies, some wearing masks of Richard Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover, covered in polka dots and scampering in undulating piles of potato-shaped soft sculptures.” He said, no thanks. Silly man.

And now, these photoshoots (NSFW) have joined Kusama’s lucrative ouvre of infinite mirrored rooms, ravenously colorful sculptures, poetry, Happenings, dots, dots and dots. Heller rejected the “kook’s” aggressive dirty picture peddling. Now she’s one of the most famous, venerated living artists. It happens.

And she’s voluntarily living in a mental asylum for decades now. That also happens.

Heller seems to be feeling a little bad about making Kusama sound like a pornographer, so he’s also promoting this Heather Lenz documentary about Kusama.

And then Lenz adds, “During that era she also made ‘orgy clothes,’ with strategically cut holes.” And now you can’t get the image of gaggles of half naked hippies with President masks fucking on piles of soft sculptures through their crotch holes.

(Composite’s source images: Fireplace Chats, Central Park image: Los Angeles Museum of Art via Scott Waterman/Flickr)