Yayoi Kusama, Aspiring to Pumpkin’s Love, the Love in My Heart, 2023 (detail). © YAYOI KUSAMA. Courtesy the artist, David Zwirner, Ota Fine Arts, and Victoria Miro
David Zwirner announces I Spend Each Day Embracing Flowers, an exhibition of works by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama that will feature new paintings, new sculptures elaborating on her signature motifs of pumpkins and flowers, and a new Infinity Mirror Room. Presented across the gallery’s 519, 525, and 533 West 19th Street locations in New York, this will mark ten years since Kusama’s first solo show with David Zwirner in 2013 and will be one of her largest gallery exhibitions to date.
Yayoi Kusama has shared the following message about her forthcoming exhibition:
I’ve Sung the Mind of Kusama Day by Day, a Song from the Heart.
O Youth of Today, Let Us Sing Together a Song from the Heart of the Universe!
One of the most influential artists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, Kusama occupies a unique position within recent art history. Since her early assimilation of pop art and minimalism in the 1960s, she has created a highly personal oeuvre that resonates with a global audience. Distinctly recognizable, her works frequently deploy repetitive elements—such as dots—to evoke both microscopic and macroscopic universes. Her highly influential career encompasses paintings, performances, room-size presentations, outdoor sculptural installations, literary works, films, fashion, design, and interventions within existing architectural structures.
The exhibition is named after three monumental flower sculptures, each titled I Spend Each Day Embracing Flowers, which occupy 519 West 19th Street. Since the 1950s, Kusama has repeatedly engaged flowers and plants as motifs in her work, inspired by her fascination with the natural world. Experienced in the round, the immense blooms invite the audience to partake in a wholly immersive experience that suggests the atmosphere of a lush garden. At the opposite end of the exhibition, at 533 West 19th Street, three massive undulating pumpkin sculptures transfigure the organic forms reimagined by Kusama over several long decades. These wall-like structures situate viewers in a space that envelops them in her characteristic polka dots.
Thirty-six paintings, most of which are part of her recent series EVERY DAY I PRAY FOR LOVE (2021–present), will be on view alongside a new Infinity Mirror Room at 525 West 19th Street. In these boldly colored compositions, the use of minute details and repetition of both shapes as well as brushwork reflects the history of obsession within Kusama's oeuvre. Vibrant, animated, and densely worked, the paintings are singular explorations of line and form, blending the boundaries between abstraction and figuration. These works continue to derive from her desire to produce art that is together autobiographical and seemingly created outside of the confines of the self. Dreaming of Earth’s Sphericity, I Would Offer My Love (2023) is a large Infinity Mirror Room that features round-colored windows. These openings let in a dance of natural and artificial light alongside the interplay of bodies that activate the immersive space.
Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now, the most extensive Kusama retrospective to be staged in Asia—outside of the artist’s native Japan—is currently on view at M+ Museum, Hong Kong, through May 14, 2023, and will subsequently travel to Guggenheim Bilbao in late June. Recently, Yayoi Kusama: My Soul Blooms Forever, the largest outdoor exhibition of its kind in the Gulf region, concluded its run at the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, in March 2023, and Kusama’s monumental mosaic artwork A Message of Love, Directly from My Heart unto the Universe, commissioned for Grand Central Madison by the MTA Arts & Design, was unveiled at Madison Concourse of Long Island Rail Road's new eastside terminus in New York City in February 2023.
About the Artist
Portrait of Yayoi Kusama in costume in front of pumpkin painting, photo: Noriko Takasugi
Yayoi Kusama’s (b. 1929) work has been featured in both solo and group presentations worldwide. She presented her first solo show in her native Japan in 1952. In the mid-1960s, she established herself in New York as an important avant-garde artist by staging groundbreaking and influential happenings, events, and exhibitions. Her work gained renewed widespread recognition in the late 1980s following a number of international solo exhibitions, including shows at the Center for International Contemporary Arts, New York, and the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, both of which took place in 1989. She represented Japan in 1993 at the 45th Venice Biennale, to much critical acclaim. In 1998, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, co-organized Love Forever: Yayoi Kusama, 1958–1968, which toured to the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1998–1999), and Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (1999).
More recently, from 2011 to 2012, her work was the subject of a large-scale retrospective that traveled to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Tate Modern, London; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. From 2012 through 2015, three major museum solo presentations of the artist’s work simultaneously traveled to major museums throughout Japan, Asia, and Central and South America. In 2015, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark, organized a comprehensive overview of Kusama’s practice that traveled to Henie-Onstad Kunstsenter, Høvikodden, Norway; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; and Helsinki Art Museum. In 2017–2019, a major survey of the artist’s work, Infinity Mirrors, was presented at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Seattle Art Museum; The Broad, Los Angeles; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; The Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio; and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia. Yayoi Kusama: Life Is the Heart of the Rainbow, which marked the first large-scale exhibition of Kusama’s work presented in Southeast Asia, opened at the National Gallery of Singapore in 2017 and traveled to the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane, Australia and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara, Jakarta. In 2019, All About Love Speaks Forever, an exhibition at the Fosun Foundation, Shanghai included more than forty works by the artist.
A comprehensive retrospective of the artist’s work was on view at Gropius Bau, Berlin, in 2021, and traveled to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in 2022. KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature was on view at The New York Botanical Garden in 2021. In Montreal, the PHI Foundation for Contemporary Art presented Yayoi Kusama: DANCING LIGHTS THAT FLEW UP TO THE UNIVERSE from 2022 to 2023. The exhibition, Yayoi Kusama: My Soul Blooms Forever, was on view at the Qatar Museums, Doha from 2022 to 2023. One with Eternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirshhorn Collection is presently on view at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC through July 16, 2023. Tate Modern, London, is presenting Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror Rooms through April 28, 2024. At the M+ Museum in Hong Kong, a major retrospective of the artist's oeuvre, Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now, is on view through May 2023, and will travel to Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain, in June 2023. The Perez Art Museum Miami is currently presenting the exhibition Yayoi Kusama: LOVE IS CALLING. The presentation, Yayoi Kusama - You, Me and the Balloons will open at the Factory International, Manchester, England, in June of 2023.
In 2023, a commissioned mosaic by Kusama, A Message of Love, Directly from My Heart unto the Universe (2022) was unveiled at the new Madison Concourse at Grand Central Station, New York, and will remain on permanent view.
Kusama has been represented by David Zwirner since 2013. The gallery's inaugural exhibition in 2013 with the artist, titled I Who Have Arrived in Heaven, spanned all three spaces at West 19th Street in New York. Her second gallery solo show, Give Me Love, was held at David Zwirner, New York, in 2015. Subsequent solo shows of the artist’s work at David Zwirner, New York include Festival of Life, concurrently presented with Infinity Nets, in 2017; and EVERY DAY I PRAY FOR LOVE in 2019. In 2021, David Zwirner, Victoria Miro, and Ota Fine Arts jointly presented I WANT YOUR TEARS TO FLOW WITH THE WORDS I WROTE in New York, London, and Tokyo.
Yayoi Kusama Museum, a museum dedicated to the artist’s work, opened October 1, 2017, in Tokyo with the inaugural exhibition Creation is a Solitary Pursuit, Love is What Brings You Closer to Art. EVERY DAY I PRAY FOR LOVE, the museum's tenth exhibition devoted to her work, was on view from 2022 to 2023. The museum will open Yayoi Kusama: Self-Obliteration/Psychedelic World in April 2023.
Work by the artist is held in museum collections worldwide, including the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Daegu Art Museum, Daegu, South Korea; Guggenheim Bilbao; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Gunma; Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Hiroshima, Japan; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; M+, Hong Kong; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara (MACAN), Jakarta; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan; National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Taipei Fine Arts Museum; Tate, United Kingdom; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, Toyota, Japan; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; among numerous others. Kusama lives and works in Tokyo.
About the Exhibition
Dates: May 11—July 21, 2023
Location: 519, 525 & 533 West 19th Street, New York
Courtesy David Zwirner.