“My pumpkins, beloved of all the plants in the world,” Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama has said. “When I see pumpkins, I cannot efface the joy of them being my everything, nor the awe I hold them in.”
“Cosmic Nature,” at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx from April 10 to Oct. 31, 2021, highlights the natural themes in Kusama’s art by installing her work throughout the gardens and inside the conservatory and library.
“For Kusama, cosmic nature is a life force that integrates the terrestrial and celestial orders of the universe from both the micro- and macrocosmic perspectives she investigates in her practice,” curator Mika Yoshitake writes. “Nature is not only a central source of inspiration, but also integral to the visceral effects of Kusama’s artistic language in which organic growth and the proliferation of life are made ever-present.”
The show includes the debut of her 16-foot-tall “Dancing Pumpkin” (2020) on the conservatory lawn and “I Want to Fly to the Universe” (2020) in the visitor center reflecting pool. The exhibition also includes a 1945 sketchbook (from when she was 16), assemblage boxes, collages, sculptures and paintings.
Yayoi Kusama was born in 1929 and grew up on her wealthy family’s seed nursery in Matsumoto, Japan. When she was 10, she had the first of the hallucinations that she would experience all her life—she’s described it as the red flower-patterned tablecloth that seemed to spread to everything.
She took up art in her homeland before moving to the United States in 1957—first Seattle, then New York the following summer. She filled canvases with little circles for her “Infinity Net” paintings, obsessive, minimalist versions of the Abstract Expressionist art.
“This endless repetition caused a kind of dizzy, empty hypnotic feeling,” Kusama said in a 1964 radio interview. Her art has often been a way to get a grip on her mental struggles. “I paint them in quantity,” Kusama said of her late ‘50s “Infinity Net” paintings. “In doing so, I try to escape.”
“Living in New York City from 1958 to 1973, Kusama participated in avant-garde circles while honing her signature dot and net painting motifs, developing soft sculptures, creating installation-based works, and staging spontaneous performance art,” according to the botanical garden. “Following her return to Japan, her work became increasingly personal, while also engaging with universal themes of life and death and the interconnectedness of living things.”
Dec. 15, 2019: Two Yayoi Kusama Exhibits In New York Offer An Overview Of Her Visionary Art
Sept. 17, 2019: First Look Inside Yayoi Kusama’s Psychedelic ‘Infinity Room’ At Boston’s ICA
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