Famed artist Yayoi Kusama to open her own Tokyo museum

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Staff Writer

Yayoi Kusama, avant-garde artist world-renowned for her obsessive polka dot and net paintings, is opening a museum in the center of Tokyo this fall, the new museum said on its website.

The planned five-story museum will open Oct. 1 in Shinjuku Ward where it will feature a collection of the famed 88-year-old artist’s works as well as documents and related materials.

The museum will be managed by Yayoi Kusama Museum Foundation and will hold two exhibitions a year plus lectures.

Kusama, who has struggled with mental illness for most of her life, was named the most popular artist in the world in 2014 by The Art Newspaper, a journal of record for the visual arts world, based on a survey of attendance at museums.

Her signature polka-dot and infinity-net patterns were based on frightening hallucinations Kusama experienced during childhood when she was abused by her mother.

Kusama was 28 when in 1957 she left her hometown of Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, for New York.

She never married but had a close personal relationship with the late American sculptor Joseph Cornell, who was 26 years her senior.

She returned to Tokyo in the 1970s and entered a mental institution where she has since been receiving treatment.

“If it hadn’t been for art, I would have killed myself a long time ago,” Kusama wrote in her essay “Why do I create art?”

Earlier this year, her works were featured at a solo exhibition titled “My Eternal Soul” at the The National Art Center in Tokyo’s Minato Ward as part of a celebration to mark the center’s 10th anniversary.

Akira Tatehata, president of Tama Art University in western Tokyo and also the head of Museum of Modern Art in the city of Saitama, will concurrently serve as the head of Yayoi Kusama Museum as well.

The inaugural exhibition “Creation is a Solitary Pursuit, Love is What Brings You Closer to Art” runs from Oct. 1 through Feb. 25.

Visitors will need to make reservations to enter the museum, which will open from Thursday through Sunday including national holidays.

Tickets will be available through the museum’s website from Aug. 28 at www.yayoikusamamuseum.jp.

Information from Kyodo added