Japan born 1929
Stainless steel, embossed and painted
Widely acclaimed as Japan’s most successful living artist, Yayoi Kusama has worked variously as a painter, video artist and performer, but is best known for her sculpture and installations. And,
more specifically, for works that feature her signature motifs of pumpkins and seemingly endless expanse of dots. This latter obsession prompted the popular moniker ‘the princess of polka
The artist attributes her fascination with dots to a childhood experience when she imagined she was lost in a field of flowers that began to speak to her. As Kusama recalls, the flower heads
resembled dots, a memory that later inspired the artist’s famous infinity mirror rooms – immersive installations in which viewers are dazzled by the illusion of a vast and dark cosmos of stars.
The pumpkin is Kusama’s other globally famous motif and it, too, derives originally from childhood memories of her parents’ farm and vegetable garden. For Kusama – much of whose art is autobiographical in kind – the pumpkin has particular appeal due to its soft texture, ‘winsome’ form and essential ‘modesty’. It is, Kusama has said, emblematic of stability and comfort and is considered by her as a muse or an allegory and as being infused with spirituality.
Pumpkins appear in Kusama’s paintings, prints, designer clothing, immersive installations and, as here, as monumental stand-alone sculptures painted with columns of graduated dots aligned with the gourd’s bulging and stylised lobes.
Yayoi Kusama was raised in Matsumoto, Japan and trained at the Kyoto City University of Arts, initially in a traditional Japanese painting style. Inspired subsequently by American Abstract
Expressionism, she relocated to New York City in 1958 and became part of the counterculture scene of the late 1960s and a member of the pop-art movement. She has remained a prominent figure in avant-garde movements ever since.