After much anticipation, Yayoi Kusama, one of Japan’s most exciting and prominent artists, finally opened the doors to her new museum earlier this month. It is located within the bustling downtown district of the Shinjuku district in Tokyo. The Yayoi Kusama Museum is meant to manifest as an focal point to celebrate Kusama’s life works. It is a site for her unique and impactful contribution to art history. An objective of the museum is encouragement of audiences of all ages to learn through immersion in her interdisciplinary works. The museum is the site to elaborate upon the extensive, expansive ideology of Kusama; who has always been a strong advocate for peace on a global scale, awe for the cosmic, and encourager of unconditional applications of love. All of this is meant to be shared with her museum visitors so they might catch a glimpse into the mind of Kusama herself.
The building is striking amidst the sea of the more uniform architectures that surround it, a product of the architectural firm Kume Sekkei. An appropriately monumental site to celebrate a monumental career. The Kusama museum has created an ambitious set of goals that are larger than the goal of solely showcasing works; The institution anticipates providing education to the visitors on contemporary art. Among the activities in the core mission statement includes the presentation of works that span Yayoi Kusama’s legendary career including past and most recent works. This is a monumental task when consideration is given to the fact that she became globally active and has remained so since the 1950’s. Kusama’s intensive work ethic has spanned decades and has resulted in the production of numerous bodies of work every year since.
Akira Tatehata is the Museum Director of the Yayoi Kusama Museum. Yuji Maeyama, curator of the museum, has put together the first show currently on display entitled, 'Creation is a Solitary Pursuit, Love is What Brings You Closer to Art'. This title emulates the beliefs central to Kusama’s work, and states clearly her belief that art requires engagement, contemplation and proactiveness on a societal level to reach the definitively utopian notion of a universal love. Also touched on is the notion of the inseparable nature of art and life. This was seen in the 1960’s movement within art, which was of particular prominence in works of performance.
Additionally, other works within this exhibition are: recent installation work that was specifically made for the museums opening, sculptural works which include a new iconic pumpkin sculpture, and several paintings from the 'My Eternal Soul' and 'Love Forever' series, which consist of over sixteen paintings. The works are realized in Kusama’s iconic all over composition of meticulously detailed painted and design elements. Among these works include a painting of a large accumulation of various sized eyes which seem to look out at the viewer, as well as the infamous dot painted hallucinated patternings, among others.
Construction of such a museum space in which art and ideas of community, love, among others are encouraged is especially relevant in this political climate on a global scale. Such a space that has been made available for the public gives people a much sought after alternative through immersion in the art and space envisioned by Kusama. The result seems to be an encompassment of individual and communal experiences, where the viewers are surrounded by works that depict the beauty of individual perspectives on the world that is expansive enough to then provoke a collective imagination. The work of Yayoi Kusama is a reality within another reality, and offers a momentary release from the predictable repetitions that permeate the everyday.
Kusama has a long history of creating visually provocative works spanning across mediums of painting, performance, film, sculpture and installation. Her international exhibition of her work has given audience beyond Japan the opportunity to engage within her realm of hallucination imposed lens on the way in which reality and whimsy merge. For Kusama, such distinctions are unnecessary. If you believe that is enough seems to be the message that can be understood from her latter works In the recent past, Kusama has found ways to make her works accessible to even large audiences. She collaborated with Louis Vuitton in 2012 on store front installations, product design, and more. The Infinity Mirror Room installations, which have manifested in iterations across the globe, have become a magical site for marriage proposals across the world. Additionally, her other works in various media can be viewed across the world at almost any given time. For more the process and life of Yayoi Kusama, please refer to the documentary ‘Yayoi Kusama: A Life in Polka Dots’ by Heather Lenz.
Accessibility information is listed on the Yayoi Kusama Museum website, where the routes to the museum are clearly demarcated. Within the museum itself, all five floors are wheelchair accessible. Audiences who are interested in a day’s worth of viewing of the spectacular works of Kusama are strongly advised to book their tickets in advance to avoid long lines, and to ensure entry to the museum. Due to the immediate popularity of the current exhibiton on view, tickets for October, November and December 2017 are already sold out! Tickets for January 2018 are available starting November 1. Please check the museum website for more details on planning your trip.
An aspect of the Yayoi Kusama Museum’s core mission is to engage the public on a multiplicity of levels. The range in interactions is to celebrate the diverse work and career achievements of Kusama. Additionally, educational outreach on contemporary art for all ages is available ranging from gallery talks for adults, to worksheets that can be filled out during the museum visit for younger visitors. Future events the museum will host include: lectures, book releases, among others. This month, forthcoming museum programming includes: on October 22, there will be a lecture delivered by Tatehata on the “My Eternal Soul” series of work. Spaces are limited.
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