Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama

Let's Fight Together

Welcome to the magical, polka-dotted, pumpkin-filled world of the legendary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, who uses her art to fight for love and peace. We had the pleasure of meeting the 86-year-old Kusama in her colourful Tokyo-studio.

Kusama, who feels that we’re getting into the worst century, hopes that her artwork reflects her longing – and fight – for love and peace: “I have been expressing an infinite devotion to peace loving and the refusal of war and terrorism by infinite human love.” Infinity is key in this context, as all of her work – from fashion to literature and art – centres on the notion of infinity and “the marvellous mystery of the universe.”

“I have the enthusiasm as if I was still a child.” Pumpkins have always played and continue to play an essential role in Kusama’s artwork. She depicts the impressive fruit through both drawings and sculptures of various sizes and material: “I love pumpkins because of their humorous form, warm feeling and a humanlike quality and shape.”

Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929) is a Japanese artist and writer. She has worked in a wide variety of media, including paintings, collage, sculpture, performance art, fashion, and installations. Common for these different genres is the thematic interest in psychedelic colours, repetition and pattern (most famously dots). She moved to the United States in 1957 and soon became a fixture of the New York avant-garde scene, influencing contemporary artists such as Andy Warhol. It was also in New York, that she embraced the rise of the hippie counterculture of the late 1960s, organizing a series of happenings in which naked participants were painted with polka dots. In 1973 Kusama moved back to Japan, where she was suddenly perceived as a “Western” artist, and thus had to re-establish her network and position. Kusama’s work is in the collections of leading museums such as MoMA in New York, Tate Modern in London, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Centre Pompidou in Paris and the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo. She has received numerous prestigious awards, including the Asahi Prize (2001), Order des Arts et des Lettres (2003), the Order of the Rising Sun (2006) and one of Japan’s most prestigious prizes, Praemium Imperiale (2006), which she was the first Japanese woman to receive. Kusama has also designed for the fashion-industry, collaborating with prominent designers such as Louis Vuitton. She lives and works in Tokyo, Japan.

Yayoi Kusama was interviewed at her studio in Tokyo, Japan in June 2015. Questions by Christian Lund.

Camera: Yudai Maruyama
Produced and edited by: Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2015

Supported by Nordea-fonden

  • Marina Abramović & Ulay

    A Living Door of the Museum

    Standing naked in the main entrance of a museum, facing each other while the audience passes sideways through the small space. Legendary performance artists Marina Abramović and Ulay share the story behind their poetic work ‘Imponderabilia’.

  • Julie Nord

    The Power of Drawing

    “It’s the closest you get to silence – or skin. There’s so little between me as an artist and my material.” Artist Julie Nord here shares her attraction to the "no bullshit" of drawing. Visit her studio and take a peek at how she makes her surreal, fairy tale-like drawings.

  • Nina Saunders

    A Cultural Warrior

    Meet artist Nina Saunders who plays with the familiar by twisting it in surprising ways. She here discusses her humorous yet disturbing work – made from discarded upholstered furniture and stuffed animals – which comments on our world.

  • Erica Jong

    Sexuality and Creativity

    “The urge to create and the urge to copulate are very close.” Watch the iconic feminist writer Erica Jong speak candidly of being fuelled creatively by desire, her experiences as a female writer and what she has come to realize about men.

  • Karl Ove Knausgård

    On 'Madame Bovary'

    “This controlled perfection, that I usually don’t like, elevates it.” Karl Ove Knausgård – author of ‘My Struggle’ – here shares his love of the classic novel ‘Madame Bovary’ by Gustave Flaubert, which he has read three times at different stages of his life.

  • Günther Uecker

    Advice to the Young

    German artist Günther Uecker (b. 1930) – one of the most prominent members of the ZERO Group – here stresses the importance of not adhering to the conventions of society, but to follow one’s own voice: “Don’t rush to the guillotine, assert yourself first.”

  • Günther Uecker

    Poetry Made with a Hammer

    “We need images to cross the boundary of the unutterable.” The moving story of Günther Uecker – a legendary German artist, who expresses his artistic belief by means of a hammer and nails, thus reflecting his dark experiences from World War II.

  • Sambuichi

    Sun, Water and Air

    Travel through an enchanting sea of light and darkness orchestrated by the praised Japanese architect Hiroshi Sambuichi. He here shares his thoughts behind the wondrous water and light installation set in an old underground water reservoir.

  • Orhan Pamuk

    Do Not Hope for Continuity

    “I ran away, but I returned, and I will continue to tell its story. It’s natural that I write about it because this is the best place I know.” Watch Nobel Prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk in this interview about his relationship with Istanbul – now and then.

  • Thomas Hirschhorn

    Show Me Your Phone

    “They’re the last people who fight for the public space.” Artist Thomas Hirschhorn pulls out a photo from the treasury of his phone and reveals how sharing a public area with a group of alcoholics inadvertently changed one of his projects.

  • TAL R :

    Shortly before he turned fifty, we had the unique pleasure of spending six months with Danish artist Tal R, while he was in the process of making his grand series of nine enormous railcar-paintings, ‘Habakuk’. Watch the intimate and biographical film.

  • Leonardo Padura

    Literature, Cinema and Baseball

    In-depth biographic interview with Leonardo Padura on how baseball was his first true love – and why he doesn’t want to be too local in his writing: “I am a Cuban writer who writes about Cuba, and I try to have a universal perspective on events.”