Yayoi Kusama - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale Hong Kong Saturday, November 26, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo (acquired directly from the artist)
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Tokyo, Ota Fine Arts, Yayoi Kusama: Where Am I Now?, 1 June - 3 July, 1999

  • Catalogue Essay

    Yayoi Kusama’s pumpkins are central to an oeuvre deeply entrenched in the artist’s childhood memories, a trope that has featured extensively and consistently throughout the artist’s practice. The gourd appeared in the artist’s works as early as in the 1940s, depicted simply in light sketches, during her training in nihonga (“Japanese style painting”) at the Kyoto Municipal School of Arts and Crafts. They were formally engrained in her artistic production since the 1980s and 1990s, and her fondness for them has not diminished in the least.

    Kusama’s pumpkins rose to global prominence in 1993 during the artist’s participation in the Venice Biennale. The artist presented Mirror Room (Pumpkin), a sprawling mirrored room filled with small pumpkin sculptures, reminiscent of an immense field teeming with its titular vegetable. Painted five years after this, the present Pumpkin is executed in a matured polka dot style, and in Kusama’s signature dual-coloured palette of yellow and jet-black, with a repetitive web pattern in the background of the work, analogous with the endless reflections of Mirror Room (Pumpkin).

    For the artist, the pumpkin is also deeply nostalgic, and finds its roots in her childhood: “The first time I ever saw a pumpkin was when I was in elementary school and went with my grandfather to visit a big seed-harvesting ground…and there it was: a pumpkin the size of a man’s head… It immediately began speaking to me in a most animated manner” (quoted in Infinity Net, Yayoi Kusama (translated by Ralph McCarthy), London, 2011, p. 75). Since its very first introduction into Kusama’s life, and its first forays onto the international art stage, the pumpkin will forever remain the most iconic extension, mascot, and metaphor for the artist herself.

  • Artist Biography

    Yayoi Kusama


    Named "the world's most popular artist" in 2015, it's not hard to see why Yayoi Kusama continues to dazzle contemporary art audiences globally. From her signature polka dots—"fabulous," she calls them—to her mirror-and-light Infinity Rooms, Kusama's multi-dimensional practice of making art elevates the experience of immersion. To neatly pin an artistic movement onto Kusama would be for naught: She melds and transcends the aesthetics and theories of many late twentieth century movements, including Pop Art and Minimalism, without ever taking a singular path.


    As an nonagenarian who still lives in Tokyo and steadfastly paints in her studio every day, Kusama honed her punchy cosmic style in New York City in the 1960s. During this period, she staged avant-garde happenings, which eventually thrust her onto the international stage with a series of groundbreaking exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in the 1980s and the 45th Venice Biennale in 1993. She continues to churn out paintings and installations at inspiring speed, exhibiting internationally in nearly every corner of the globe, and maintains a commanding presence on the primary market and at auction.

    View More Works

Property of an Important Asian Collector



signed, titled and dated 'Yayoi Kusama 1998 PUMPKIN' on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
72.7 x 60.7 cm. (28 5/8 x 23 7/8 in.)
Painted in 1998, this work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by the Yayoi Kusama Studio.

HK$1,500,000 - 2,500,000 

Sold for HK$6,080,000

Contact Specialist
Jonathan Crockett
Deputy Chairman, Asia and Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Asia
+852 2318 2023

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+852 2318 2025

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20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 27 November 2016