Yayoi Kusama - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Monday, June 27, 2016 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Painted in 1991 and 1993, these two paintings entitled Pumpkin feature one of the most ubiquitous motifs in the artist’s iconography. Originating from a passion for the natural world rooted in an upbringing within a family of seedling merchants, Kusama recalls the beginnings of her obsession with the plant: ‘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…It immediately began speaking to me in a most animated manner.’ (Y. Kusama, Infinity Net: The Autobiography of Yayoi Kusama, trans. Ralph McCarthy, London 2011, p.75)

    In these two paintings hypnotising rows of varying-sized dots, gently undulating, coalesce into the pleasantly swollen and rippling forms of the humble pumpkin. The irregular and bulbous protrusions of the plant serve to make each one decisively unique. Dichromatic palettes are at once both striking and restrained, serving to emphasise the rugged texture of the pumpkins. The polka dot and infinity net patterns that the pumpkins are comprised of and that surround them in the background exemplify the fundamental characteristic of the Kusama’s art: infinite repetition.

    She has described her images of pumpkins as a form of self-portraiture, with their hardiness and everyday qualities, in addition to their organic spiritual significance, speaking to her own character. These plants represent a positive childhood memory translated into a potent symbol of the artist that has lasted throughout her career. As the octogenarian icon nears ninety, it is these memories that resound, enabling optically mesmerising and deeply introspective canvases like Pumpkin 1991 and 1993. In Kusama’s own words: ‘It is for the pumpkins that I keep on going.’ (Y. Kusama, 'On Pumpkins', 2010, Courtesy KUSAMA Enterprise, Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo / Singapore and Victoria Miro, London, https://vimeo.com/106409856)

  • 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.

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acrylic on canvas
22.9 x 16 cm (9 x 6 1/4 in.)

£40,000 - 60,000 

Sold for £87,500

Contact Specialist
Henry Highley
Head of Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4061

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 28 June 2016