Giant Pumpkin Portends Coming Yayoi Kusama Mania at Hirshhorn Museum

The gourd has a solid spiritual base, says Kusama.

Yayoi Kusama, Pumpkin (2016), at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Photo Cathy Carver, courtesy Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore. © Yayoi Kusama.

An eight-foot-tall Yayoi Kusama sculpture of a polka-dotted pumpkin has appeared outside the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, in Washington, DC, foreshadowing the Kusama mania to come.

The museum will host “Infinity Mirrors,” an exhibition of work by the Japanese star artist, set to open in February before touring several North American venues.

The pumpkin is a staple in Kusama’s work in various media, and the gourd has appeared in several of her shows, from Connecticut’s Glass House to the Benesse House Art Site in Naoshima, Japan.

Four Kusama paintings of pumpkins have fetched in excess of $1 million at auction, at Sotheby’s Hong Kong and Christie’s New York, all since 2013 according to the artnet Price Database. A four-foot-high sculpture of a polka-dotted pumpkin went for $784,485 at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in October 2015.

“It seems pumpkins do not inspire much respect,” Kusama has said, according to the museum. “But I was enchanted by their charming and winsome form.”

But it’s not only formal characteristics that make the humble orange squash so appealing to Kusama, who also sees a kind of personality in the pumpkin. “What appealed to me most was the pumpkin’s generous unpretentiousness,” she says. “That and its solid spiritual base.”

Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Polka Dots (2016) at the Philip Johnson Glass House. Courtesy of artnet News.

Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Polka Dots (2016) at the Philip Johnson Glass House. Courtesy of artnet News.

In advance of the storm of selfies sure to result from the installation, the museum is urging fans to post photos of themselves with the sculpture, tagged #infinitekusama, to enter a sweepstakes to be among the first 10 people to visit the exhibition.

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” will be on view at the Smithsonian Institution’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, February 23–May 14, 2017. It will then appear at the Seattle Art Museum, June–September 2017; the Broad Museum, October 2017–January 2018; and at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto and the Cleveland Museum of Art, with dates to be determined.

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