Yayoi Kusama on Warhol, Samaras, and Oldenburg (among others)
From this interview:
Grady Turner: The serial imagery seems similar to what Andy Warhol was beginning to do with his Flowers series, covering walls with an image repeated over and over.
Yayoi Kusama: Andy was a person who incorporated everything indiscriminately in his art as if he were running a wholesale business of imitations. Before he started doing his Flowers, he came to the opening of my One Thousand Boats Show and said with a stunned look on his face what a wonderful show it was.
GT: Involving the gallery walls in a sculpture exhibition was not very different from the installation art you would come to make. In 1965, you built a mirrored room and filled it with stuffed fabric shapes covered in polka dots, entitled Infinity Mirror Room—Phalli’s Field, orFloor Show. That made actual the implied infinity of your drawings and paintings.
YK: The original idea for this work dates back to my childhood. I was making paintings in small, medium, and large sizes then, without sleeping at night sometimes. Those paintings, 2 or 3,000 in total, were rapidly sublimated within myself and developed into sculptures. In other words, underlying the mirror room were my early paintings. To create an endless mirror room had been my long-cherished dream.
GT: What did you think of Lucas Samaras’s mirrored rooms when you saw them two years later?
YK: My reaction was, “He did it again.” I hope Lucas pursues the path of creativity and pain inherent in artists from now on, instead of following what Kusama has done.
GT: For your retrospective, the Museum of Modern Art recreated examples of your art that are no longer extant, such as the mirror room. What was it like to see your lost art after three decades?
YK: I am disappointed that more than half my artwork is no longer. Now I want to create greater artwork to leave behind for future generations.
GT: You’ve been compared to Pop artists by those who detect a Pop Art sensibility in pieces like Airmail Stickers, in which you covered a large canvas with hundreds of red, white and blue airmail stickers. Did you feel any affinity with Pop?
YK: Yes, I was in the vanguard of Pop Art, and regarded as a Pop artist by the people around me. I felt that America’s energy was trying to change its history. I was part of the movement.
GT: While you did reasonably well as a young artist in New York, you were eclipsed by male artists whose work was similar—one thinks immediately of Claes Oldenburg’s soft sculptures and Samaras’s mirrored environments, not to mention Warhol’s serial images. How did their success affect you?
YK: Those male artists were simply imitating my illness. I participated in a group show held at the Green Gallery in June 1962 with Robert Morris, Warhol, George Segal, James Rosenquist, and Oldenburg who I hold in high regard. Oldenburg showed a papier-maché sculpture then. The Green Gallery offered me a chance to hold a solo show in September of the same year, but unfortunately I had to decline due to lack of money. During that summer, Oldenburg was working fast to create soft sculptures similar to mine using machine-sewn forms. When I went to the opening of his solo show held at the Green Gallery the same year, his wife led me to his piece Calendar and said to the effect, “Yayoi, I am sorry we took your idea.” I was surprised to see the work almost identical to my sculpture.
(Source: rgr-pop, via poc-creators)