Yayoi Kusama is perhaps the best-known living female artist in the world. Her spot paintings and infinity rooms are instantly recognisable, and her personal life, with decades spent inside a mental health institution because of her hallucinations, is equally talked about. Born in 1929, the avant-garde artist was raised in a traditional Japanese household, but by the time the swinging sixties came around, Kusama was living it up in New York, making penis sculptures and erotic video works that blew the lid off the contemporary art world.
Throughout her career, her dreams have taken more and more of a hold on her art. Her spot paintings are created when she rouses from sleep and painted in one sitting to depict her visions, while her mirrored rooms plastered in polka dots elucidate how she feels stranded in an infinite void of space. In recent years she has sold out shows at Tate Modern in London, Louisiana in Copenhagen and the Hirshhorn in Washington D.C., and has smashed records at auction with several works selling for millions of dollars each. She has also collaborated on a range of polka-dot covered handbags for the French fashion giant Louis Vuitton in recent years.
After several years of speculation and debate, it has now be confirmed that this October Yayoi Kusama is set to open her own museum and art institution in Tokyo, Japan. The five-storey structure, which promises to be a weird and wonderful trip in to the artist’s elusive (and often headache-initiating) world. Designed by the Japanese firm Kume Sekkei the museum will include permanent installations of her infinity rooms, a gift shop, research and archive centre, and a temporary exhibition space all housed in the glistening grey building in Tokyo’s Shinjuku ward.
The museum’s inaugural exhibition is titled ‘Creation, is a Solitary Pursuit, Love is What Brings You Closer to Art’ and runs from October 1 2017 – February 25 2018. However, tickets for the exhibition and museum are timed to 90 minutes, limited to 200 a day, and already sold out until 2018.
The museum will no doubt be a must for anyone who finds inspiration in Kusama’s works (which are amazingly Instagram-able). The new space will feature her drawings, paintings, videos and installations, and maybe even offer a chance to catch a glimpse of the elusive Kusama herself in person. Just one more reason for that Far-Eastern trip.
Yayoi Kusama Museum, Japan, opens 1 October 2017
Words by Harry Seymour