Yayoi Kusama’s most outstanding sculptures – Pumpkins & Flowers

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Yayoi Kusama – Pumpkin, 1994, Benesse Art Site, Naoshima, Japan

Yayoi Kusama – Pumpkin, 1994, Benesse Art Site, Naoshima, Japan, photo: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 by gsz

Published: August 30, 2017

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About Yayoi Kusama

Celebrating her 90th birthday in 2019, Yayoi Kusama is a leading Japanese artist and legend as far as art is concerned. While she deliberately makes unique pieces that can withstand the wear and tear of the outdoors, she is renowned for reproducing her art in monumental scale when need be. Her career spans over 6 decades and during this time her works have managed to enter the collection of museums such as the New York MoMA, LACMA, Tate Modern and others.

Yayoi Kusama is widely known for being a precursor of pop art and an influencer to many great artists such as Andy Warhol.

Kusama’s sculptures

Yayoi Kusama made her first sculpture in 1994 which was a solid yellow colored pumpkin with a clear spot pattern. While this first and a couple of other projects would be installed in Japan, many others would be scattered all around the world. Some of these famous works are The Visionary Flowers of 2002 to be found in the Matsumoto City Museum of Art in Nagano, Japan; the Tulipes de Shangri-La of 2003 to be found in, Eurolille, Lille, France; the Tsumari in Bloom of 2003 to be found in Niigata, Japan; and The Hymn of Life: Tulips of 2007 situated in Beverly Hills City Council, Los Angeles.

Yayoi develops a certain work overtime to sort of tell a story. Many people must have noticed the pumpkin sculptures and the frequency in which they appear in her work creates a signature effect in her works. That is however not all she does although many plant-like sculptures are made purposefully for institutions. To preserve the paintings and protect them from outdoor elements, highly durable plastic that has been reinforced with fiberglass is used for casting. This is then painted over with urethane for perfection.

Artworks

The iconic yellow pumpkin on Naoshima Island

The large yellow pumpkin dotted in black on the Naoshima Island located in the Japanese Kagawa Prefecture has soon become an icon because it’s so distinctive and contrasts the natural environment. It’s located very close to water, and the reflection makes this sculpture stand out even more. It’s also located close to the Naoshima Port Terminal, so most visitors to the island will pass by the artwork.

Kusama’s pumpkin became one of the reasons why the Naoshima community is focused on art and there are quite a lot of interesting projects spread all over the island. It’s safe to say that simply installing the sculpture transformed into something inspiring and particular. Yayoi Kusama’s unique vision and sculpture has become a true icon that will make the island famous for years to come.

1 min
Polka dot sculptures- Footprints of Life
Yayoi Kusama - exhibition Walking in My Mind, Hayward Gallery, London

Yayoi Kusama at group exhibition Walking in My Mind, Hayward Gallery, London, photo: Southbank Centre

Yayoi Kusama - Footprints of Life, A Dream I Dreamed National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, 2015

Yayoi Kusama – Footprints of Life, A Dream I Dreamed at National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, 2015

Pumpkin sculptures
Yayoi Kusama - In Infinity, at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark

Yayoi Kusama – In Infinity exhibition, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark

Yayoi Kusama - Pumpkin (M) 2014, Ala Moana Center, Honolulu, Hawaii

Yayoi Kusama – Pumpkin (M), 2014, Ala Moana Center, Honolulu, Hawaii

Yayoi Kusama - Pumpkin (M), 2013, Victoria Miro, London

Yayoi Kusama – Pumpkin (M), 2013, Victoria Miro, London

1 min 18 sec
Yayoi Kusama’s work at Philip Johnson’s Glass House, New Canaan, Connecticut
Yayoi Kusama - Pumpkin, 2016, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Photo Cathy Carver

Yayoi Kusama – Pumpkin, 2016, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, photo: Cathy Carver

Yayoi Kusama - Red Pumpkin, 2006, Naoshima, Japan 1

Yayoi Kusama – Red Pumpkin, 2006, Naoshima, Japan, photo: 663highland, Miyanoura port05s3200, CC BY-SA 3.0

Flower sculptures
Yayoi Kusama - Flowers that speak all about my heart given to the sky, 2018, Victoria Miro, London, 2018

Yayoi Kusama – Flowers that speak all about my heart given to the sky, 2018, Victoria Miro, London, 2018, photo: Thierry-Bal

Yayoi Kusama - Flowers that speak all about my heart given to the sky, 2018, Victoria Miro, London, 2018

Yayoi Kusama – Flowers that speak all about my heart given to the sky, 2018, Victoria Miro, London, 2018, photo: Thierry-Bal

Yayoi Kusama - Flowers that speak all about my heart given to the sky, 2018, Victoria Miro, London, 2018

Yayoi Kusama – Flowers that speak all about my heart given to the sky, 2018, Victoria Miro, London, 2018, photo: Thierry-Bal

Yayoi Kusama - Flowers that Bloom at Midnight 2010, fibreglass-reinforced plastic, urethane paint, installation view at Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles

Yayoi Kusama – Flowers that Bloom at Midnight, 2010, fibreglass-reinforced plastic, urethane paint, installation view at Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles

Yayoi Kusama - Tsumari in Bloom, 2003, Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, Japan

Yayoi KusamaTsumari in Bloom, 2003, Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, Japan, photo: Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale

Tentacle sculpture
Yayoi Kusama - Shine of Life, 2019, Kistefos Museum, Jevnaker, Norway

Yayoi Kusama – Shine of Life, 2019, Kistefos Museum, Jevnaker, Norway, photo: Einar Aslaksen

Yayoi Kusama - Shine of Life, 2019, istefos Museum, Jevnaker, Norway

Yayoi Kusama – Shine of Life, 2019, Kistefos Museum, Jevnaker, Norway, photo: Einar Aslaksen

Yayoi Kusama - Shine of Life, 2019, Kistefos Museum, Jevnaker, Norway.

Detail of Yayoi Kusama – Shine of Life, 2019, Kistefos Museum, Jevnaker, Norway, photo: Einar Aslaksen

Polka dot tree wrappings
Yayoi Kusama - Ascension of Polka Dots on the Trees, 2006, Singapore Biennale

Yayoi Kusama – Ascension of Polka Dots on the Trees, 2006, Singapore Biennale, photo: Terence Ong, Yayoi Kusama – Ascension of Polkadots on the Trees, CC BY-SA 3.0

3 min 7 sec
Kusama’s Ascension of Polka Dots on the Trees, Helsinki Esplanadi Park, Helsinki, Finland

All images: Yayoi Kusama unless otherwise noted.

 

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