I finally managed to see Yayoi Kusama’s exhibition in person! As soon as the news of the opening of her museum came out, the tickets started selling out with a speed of light. I was quite excited that I managed to snatch two tickets the morning they went on sale. The museum is located in Shinjuku ward, not too far from Kusama’s studio and the psychiatric hospital where she lives voluntarily. The closest metros are Waseda Station and Ushigome-yanagicho (check with Hyperdia to see which one works best for you).
Yayoi Kusama is the avant-garde artist and novelist born in 1929 in Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture. From a young age she experienced visual and auditory hallucinations, and started creating net and polka-dot patterned pictures. Sha has held exhibitions at various museums throughout the world including Tate Modern and Pompidou Center. She was named the World’s Most Popular Artist in 2014 and received Japan’s Order of Culture in 2016.
The tall and white building of Kusama’s newly opened museum was designed by the architectural firm Kume Sekkei and features modernist exterior with rounded corners. Meanwhile, the five-storied interior consists of individual galleries with tall ceilings, pristine white walls and floor-to-ceiling glass windows. The museum is operated by the Yayoi Kusama Foundation created by the artist herself and starting October 1, it will be a permanent place to display her work even after she passes away.
The inaugural exhibition – Creation is a Solitary Pursuit, Love is What Brings You Closer to Art – includes 45 pieces and is arranged thematically throughout five floors: you’ll find a very limited souvenir shop on the first floor, Kusama’s paintings on the second and third floors, while the insanely popular mirrored installation is housed on the fourth floor. You have only 30 seconds to spend inside, but since your ticket time slot is 90 minutes, you can re-enter the mirror room as many times as you wish – you just have to sand in line all over again, which in our case was 2-3 people. Unfortunately, the fifth floor was still closed during our visit, although it is supposed to be home to Kusama’s yet another legendary work of art – a globular mosaic pumpkin sculpture. This collection will run until February 25, and the exhibitions will be rotated every six months. The museum will also host lectures and other events, all intended to widely share Kusama’s message of world piece and love for humans, while also familiarizing people with contemporary art.
Of course, polka dots are omnipresent, even in the restrooms and elevator!
It will host two exhibitions annually, focusing on Kusama’s entire repertoire, including her ‘Infinity Net’ paintings, phallic sculptures and, most importantly, the legendary polka dots. The museum is open Thursday through Sunday. You must buy tickets in advance via their website and the entry is by 90-minute time slot, only four per day. 50 tickets are allocated per slot. Price: Adults, ¥1,000; children aged 6 to 18, ¥600; children under 6 years old, free. Tickets go on sale on the first day of each month, for dates in the month after next, at 10 a.m. sharp Tokyo time through the museum’s official ticketing website.
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