Yayoi Kusama Wants to Build a Museum, Thinks She Surpassed Warhol

Ms. Kusama, 1968. (Courtesy Getty Images)

New York Magazine ran a mini profile of Yayoi Kusama today ahead of her retrospective at the Whitney Museum, which opens this week. The end of the story features an e-mail Q&A with the artist and her translator, in which Ms. Kusama is frank on a number of subjects, among them the fact that she has essentially lived in and around a mental hospital for the past 40 years. Here’s a sample:

Why have you decided to remain in the open ward for this long?
I write novels and poems, and I also paint in the hospital. They are my saviors.

Does it bother you that your work is sometimes seen through the lens of mental illness?
I’m not an outsider artist. Although I’m living in a hospital, I buy my own land and have built my own building. And I am now getting ready to make a museum.

Do you think that if you’d stayed in New York, you could have surpassed Warhol?
I had already exceeded him during my stay in New York in the sixties. He lived near me and appropriated my ideas, only he was too late because I had already realized them. We don’t hear his name now so much in Japan.

Read the whole thing here.