A Typhoon in Japan Has Swept a Famous Yayoi Kusama Pumpkin Sculpture Out to Sea

The pumpkin had been perched on a pier.

Image via Benesse Art Site.com

A large polka-dotted pumpkin sculpture by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama was swept out to sea today from its usual perch in a park in the southwestern Japanese city of Naoshima.

Videos of the sculpture—likely worth at least a few million dollars—posted on social media showed it being tossed around in rough waves. The strong winds and high tide even appear to have sliced the sculpture in half.

Fortunately, it has been recovered from the typhoon and is being housed at Benesse Art Site, according to the Washington Post. The site will restore the sculpture, which measures over six feet tall and eight feet wide, according to the Post. A representative for Benesse did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The record for one of Kusama’s pumpkin sculptures is $3.7 million, paid for a similarly patterned, yellow and black dotted pumpkin from 2009, according to the Artnet Price Database. It was sold at Christie’s London in June. Another similar example, I Carry on Living with the Pumpkins (2013), sold for more than $2 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong this past May.

The Kusama Pumpkin that was situated at the tip of the pier in Naoshima was, like much of Kusama’s work, extremely popular among viewers. Naoshima is known as Japan’s art island because of its numerous modern art museums and cutting-edge architecture, as well as a variety of displays of modern art around the island. The Kusama work was installed there in 1994.

It has previously been temporarily re-located in advance of storms to protect it from damage, according to the Post, which cites a 2019 Instagram video of workers lifting the pumpkin and transporting it on the back of a truck before a typhoon.

This time around, the waves reportedly picked up unexpectedly and staff members were dismayed to watch the waves overtake the sculpture when high tide hit.


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