Yayoi Kusama - Evening & Day Editions London Thursday, June 6, 2024 | Phillips
  • “I adore pumpkins… Pumpkins talk to me, giving off an aura of my sacred mental state. They embody a base for the joy of living shared by all humankind on earth. It is for the pumpkins that I keep on going.”
    —Yayoi Kusama

    Undoubtedly one of the most iconic motifs of contemporary art and of Yayoi Kusama’s incredible 70-year career, the polka-dot covered pumpkin combines the artist’s compulsive focus on infinity and repetition with a highly personal and self-reflective dimension. Kusama’s three pumpkins are presented in their iconic black and yellow colouring. Although similar, upon closer inspection the pumpkins are distinctly individual, with subtly varied leaning stalks and bulbous bodies. Kusama removes outlines; instead, the artist’s masterful manipulation of dots creates the different shape of the pumpkins, juxtaposing large and small dots to give the illusion of contrast. With complimentary coloured frames, the triplet pumpkins speak to Kusama’s obsessive focus on polka-dot patterns – or "infinity nets" as she refers – which she uses to create something unique every time. Kusama’s bright and brilliantly patterned gourds are so closely connected to the artist’s identity that they function as both allegory and a mode of self-representation, acting as a universal signature of the artist.


    As a child, Kusama began to sketch pumpkins in the wake of her first hallucinatory episode. At age 17 she made her public pumpkin debut with Kabocha, a Nihonga-style painting (made in accordance with Japanese artistic conventions, tools, materials and style), which she presented at a travelling exhibition in the towns of Nagano and Matsumoto. After these inceptive artistic attempts, the pumpkin motif disappeared from her oeuvre for decades, but then resurged in the 1970s and 1980s, following a period in which the artist focused on performance art. Pumpkins would take hold of her artistic practise, becoming an obsessive fascination for Kusama, owing to her deeply personal relationship with the motif. This interest was compounded in the 1990s, when the image was included in the artist’s interactive installations known as Infinity Mirror Rooms.

    “It seems pumpkins do not inspire much respect, but I was enchanted by their charming and winsome form. What appealed to me most was the pumpkin’s generous unpretentiousness.”
    —Yayoi Kusama

    • Literature

      Yayoi Kusama 146

    • 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


Pumpkin (K. 146)

Three screenprints in colours, printed on one sheet of Arches paper, with full margins.
all I. 21 x 16 cm (8 1/4 x 6 1/4 in.)
S. 28 x 59.1 cm (11 x 23 1/4 in.)

Signed, titled in Japanese, dated and numbered 59/250 in pencil (there were also 25 artist's proofs), published by Kuwabara Pumpkin, Tokyo, framed.

Full Cataloguing

£15,000 - 20,000 

Sold for £22,860

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Evening & Day Editions

London Auction 6 - 7 June 2024