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Art

Cosmic Nature: A Spectacular Polka Dot-Filled Exhibition by Yayoi Kusama Sprawls Across New York Botanical Garden

April 9, 2021

Grace Ebert

Now inhabiting the verdant, 250-acre campus of the New York Botanical Garden are oversized flowers sprouting in seasonal arrangements, a glowing pumpkin-packed infinity room, and a sea of 1,400 reflective spheres by Yayoi Kusama (previously). Teeming with squiggly sculptures, site-specific installations, and smaller pieces covered in the Japanese artist’s iconic polka dots, Cosmic Nature is an expansive exhibition celebrating decades of Kusama’s bold, joyful body of work.

Four new pieces are debuting during the immersive show, like the tentacled creature that marks the entrance to the grounds. Others include a 16-foot-tall dancing pumpkin, an obliteration greenhouse, and a new infinity room that reflects the lush greenery of the outdoor environment. Coupled with a variety of smaller acrylic paintings, fabric sculptures, and drawings on paper—the earliest of which dates back to 1945— the most recent works establish a broad visual trajectory of Kusama’s fixation on the natural world and never-ending penchant for polka dots.

While many of the playful blooms connect to larger themes about the human relationship to the environment, some pieces are distinctly personal, including “Flower Obsession,” which invites visitors into a space that mimics the artists’ own greenhouse. “Our earth is only one polka dot among a million stars in the cosmos…when we obliterate nature and our bodies with polka dots, we become part of the unity of our environment,” the prolific artist notably said.

Cosmic Nature opens this weekend at the Bronx venue and runs through October 31. (via Hyperallergic)

 

“I Want to Fly to the Universe” (2020), the New York Botanical Garden, urethane paint on aluminum, 157 3/8 x 169 3/8 x 140 1/8 inches. Collection of the artist, courtesy of Ota Fine Arts and David Zwirner. All images via New York Botanical Garden

“Dancing Pumpkin” (2020), view at the New York Botanical Garden, urethane paint on bronze, 196 7/8 x 116 7/8 x 117 ¼ inches. Collection of the artist, courtesy of Ota Fine Arts and David Zwirner

“Narcissus Garden” (1966/2021), view at The New York Botanical Garden, 1,400 stainless steel spheres, installation dimensions variable. Collection of the artist, courtesy of Ota Fine Arts

“Ascension of Polka Dots on the Trees” (2002/2021), view at the New York Botanical Garden, printed polyester fabric, bungees, and aluminum staples installed on existing trees, site-specific installation, dimensions variable. Collection of the artist

“My Soul Blooms Forever” (2019), view at the New York Botanical Garden, urethane paint on stainless steel, installation dimensions variable. Collection of the artist, courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Victoria Miro, and David Zwirner

“Pumpkins Screaming About Love Beyond Infinity” (2017), mirrors, acrylic, glass, LEDs, and wood panels, 59 x 59 x 83 ½ inches. Collection of the artist, courtesy of Ota Fine Arts

“Hymn of Life—Tulips” (2007), mixed media, installation dimensions variable, courtesy of the City of Beverly Hills

“Life” (2015), view at the New York Botanical Garden, fiberglass-reinforced plastic, tiles, and resin, installation dimensions variable. Collection of the artist, courtesy of Ota Fine Arts and David Zwirner

 

 



Art

Take a Walk Through Yayoi Kusama's 'Narcissus Garden' Inside an Abandoned Factory in the Rockaways

July 20, 2018

Andrew LaSane

All images: Rockaway! 2018 featuring a site-specific installation of Narcissus Garden by Yayoi Kusama. Artwork ©YAYOI KUSAMA. Artwork courtesy Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai; Victoria Miro, London/Venice; and David Zwirner, New York. Image courtesy MoMA PS1. Photo: Pablo Enriquez.

All images: Rockaway! 2018 featuring a site-specific installation of Narcissus Garden by Yayoi Kusama. Artwork ©YAYOI KUSAMA. Artwork courtesy Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai; Victoria Miro, London/Venice; and David Zwirner, New York. Image courtesy MoMA PS1. Photo: Pablo Enriquez.

The Rockaway Peninsula in Queens, New York has a reputation for being a popular destination for those seeking respite from the oppressive heat and congestion of the city during the summer months. Those venturing out to parks and beaches between now and Labor Day (September 3) will have the opportunity to experience a site specific installation of Narcissus Garden by Yayoi Kusama (previously), presented by MoMA PS1 as a part of the Rockaway! 2018 free public art festival.

The installation is situated inside of an old train garage at Fort Tilden and is comprised of 1,500 mirrored stainless steel spheres. The spheres reflect the graffiti-covered walls and rusted beams of the dilapidated building, so while the viewer is walking among the shiny garden, they are also seeing the destruction that Hurricane Sandy caused to the structure and to the region back in 2012. Rockaway! 2018 is the third iteration of a festival said to be a “celebration” of the recovery efforts that have taken place over the years, but the state of the building chosen for Kusama’s installation shows that things are still not back to normal after the devastating natural disaster.

Narcissus Garden was first presented in 1966 as a part of an unofficial performance at the 33rd Venice Biennial. The silver spheres were then made of plastic, and Kusama stood among her garden with a sign that read “Your Narcissism for Sale.” “What was most important about Narcissus Garden at Venice was my action of selling the mirror balls on the site, as if I were selling hot dogs or ice cream cones,” Kusama once said in an interview. The spheres were sold for $2 each.

The current installation is not for sale, but it is free and open to the public Friday through Sunday and on Labor Day from noon to 6pm. (via Hyperallergic)