草間彌生美術館Yayoi Kusama Museum



In Shinjuku, Tokyo, a rather extraordinary building has appeared. Located not a great distance from Waseda and Ushigome Yanagicho stations, on a street full of the rather typical buildings you can see in any part of this great city, stands one building which shouts out that it is something more than typical. Where most buildings look quite ‘busy’ with various windows, balconies and other exterior cladding, this building presents sheer white walls and large continuous windows. Its simplicity is understated, yet all the more interesting for being so. In an area famous for its hustle and bustle this one building presents an exterior which represents the opposite. When you discover this building then you have indeed found the Yayoi Kusama Museum東京の新宿に、一見変わった建物が現れた。早稲田駅と牛込柳町駅にほど近い日本的な建物が密集するこの地域に、真っ白な壁と大きな窓というシンプルな作りの建物は却って人の目を引き、興味をそそられる。これが2017年10月にオープンした草間彌生美術館だ。



美術館館長、建畠 晢はこう話す。『長年にわたって国際的な注目を浴び続けてきたアーティストは、目下、第二の黄金期ともいうべき旺盛な制作に邁進しています。美術館には完成したばかりの作品を展示し、今日の彼女の鮮烈な絵筆の息吹を目の当たりにしていただくコーナーも設けられています。』



Text: Mike Sullivan
Translation: Chinami Oda
Born in 1929 in Matsumoto City, Nagano, an early example of her artistic inclinations was a picture of a lady in a kimono which was covered in spots. Also around that time she described vivid hallucinations, such as patterns that came to life in front of her very eyes. After World War Two she studied Nihonga painting at the Kyoto Municipal School of Arts and Crafts, before moving to the US in 1957. By the early 60s she was an established avant-garde artist, she worked most of the time in New York City until 1973. Since then she has lived in Shinjuku where she has continued to work on her art. She was named as one of the world’s most popular artists in 2014 and received Japan’s Order of Culture in 2016.

Entering the museum, each floor incorporates a natural flow of movement which encourages going forward. Most galleries have square white rooms, one enters and then stays stationary within it, sometimes moving from one wall to the next, but in this gallery the walls curve round and you find yourself almost ‘curving’ with it too. For this first exhibition the walls feel like they have been covered in art in an explosion of artistic creativity, and no doubt this is representative of what future exhibitions be displayed like as well.

It is worth the wait to gain entry, as the museum’s director Akira Tatehata explains: Over many years the artist has received international acclaim and attention and now, as she strives to create vigorously, it could be said that it is Kusama’s second golden age. The museum has set aside a space to present her brand-new works so that visitors can witness the breadth of her vivid brush strokes.

Set in an amazing building in one of the greatest cities of the world, there is no better location for Yayoi Kusama’s second golden age of artistry.

Yayoi Kusama Museum
Address: 107 Benten-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Opening Hours: 11:00 – 17:00 (last admission 16:00) *Four times a day admission system
Tickets have to be purchased in advance via the official website (from the first day of each month for entry in the month after next).
Tel: +81(3) 5273 1778

Text: Mike Sullivan


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