Artists on art: Yayoi Kusama

Published 14 July 2016

As an exhibition of masterpieces that once belonged to painters opens at the National Gallery, we ask artists to name a work that has particularly moved, influenced, fascinated or inspired them.

Jimson Weed, by Georgia O’Keeffe, 1932

I dreamed of going to America and escaping my family, even though I knew no one there. In 1957, a stroke of luck led me to a book on the paintings of Georgia O’Keeffe, full of flowers and desert landscapes. I wrote to her, care of the US embassy in Tokyo. Miraculously, she responded with great kindness. Her letter gave me the courage I needed to leave.

Georgia O’Keeffe attained the very highest levels of spirituality and creativity with her paintings. She took her own path and painted exactly what she wanted to with the utmost dedication and this is why she is one of the great artists who revolutionised painting in America.

It touches my spirit that even as her vision failed her in her old age, she would peer into the sky and paint the shapes of clouds.

Georgia O' Keeffe is at Tate Modern, 6 July – 30 October.

Painters' Paintings: From Freud to Van Dyck is at the National Gallery, 23 June – 4 September. 50% off with National Art Pass.

Yayoi Kusama is at Victoria Miro, 25 May – 30 July.

To read more on artists’ accounts of works that influenced or inspired them, see ‘The Power of Paintings’ in the summer 2016 issue of Art Quarterly. To receive the magazine, buy a National Art Pass and become a member.

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