Japan’s eminent pop art and minimalist artist Yayoi Kusama gets her own museum in Shinjuku
Few creators from Japan have left as large an imprint on the greater art world as Yayoi Kusama. Her contemporaries include pop artists Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg. The 88-year-old creative began by dabbling in a wide range of media during her childhood before settling on a style based around repeating patterns and trippy colors. Famous for her use of polka dots, Kusama has painted spots on people, sculptures and even parts of downtown Tokyo. And now, three years after being named the most popular artist in the world (based on museum attendance alone) by the prestigious, London-based The Art Newspaper, and after countless international exhibitions, she’s planting her artistic roots firmly in her home city.
The five-storey Yayoi Kusama Museum opened in Shinjuku last October 1, 2017. The first exhibition, Creation is A Solitary Pursuit, Love is What Brings You Closer to Art, runs until February 25, 2018, and features paintings from Kusama’s new and super colorful 500 painting-strong “My Eternal Soul” series. The collection condenses her almost 80-year-long journey as an artist. Kusama started the project in 2009, documenting the growth of her aesthetic from when she was about 10 years of age. After this exhibition, the showcases will change biannually, highlighting different works from the span of her career.
“The museum is the medium for transmitting the messages of love and world peace embodied in Kusama’s contemporary art,” says a representative from the Yayoi Kusama Foundation.
Yuji Maeyama, curator at the Museum of Modern Art, Saitama, has also been appointed as the curatorial lead.
And Kusama’s a solid choice for bringing contemporary art to a wider audience. “Though in her earlier years, Kusama had an anti-establishment edge, she’s now, to all intents and purposes, an art world establishment,” remarks John L Tran, a Tokyo art correspondent for the Japan Times. “She has an instinctive understanding of what is visually pleasing; her narrative of slightly bonkers persistence, as much as the distinctiveness of her work, is part of her appeal.”
The Yayoi Kusama Museum is at 107 Bentencho, Shinjuku-ku.
Photo courtesy of Yayoi Kusama.
This story first appeared in the October 2017 issue of Smile magazine.