This lot has been imported from outside of the UK … Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE GERMAN COLLECTION


signed, titled in Japanese and dated 'YAYOI KUSAMA 1993' (on the reverse)
acrylic on canvas
6 1/4 x 9in. (16 x 22.8cm.)
Painted in 1993
Galerie Gabriele Rivet, Cologne.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1993.
Special notice
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.
Further details
This work is accompanied by a registration card issued by Yayoi Kusama Inc.

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Anna Touzin Specialist, Head of Day Sale

Lot Essay

Held in the same private collection since its creation in 1993, the present work depicts Yayoi Kusama’s career-defining subject: the pumpkin. In her signature two-tone colour palette, Kusama has painted a luminous yellow squash, ribbons of blue-black polka dots tracing its fleshy, plump surface. Behind the pumpkin is a pattern of energetic, interlocking lines, recalling Kusama’s webbed ‘Infinity Nets’. Both abstract and figurative, the pumpkin takes on a cosmic, hallucinatory presence. Its ribbed, dotted surface animates it into three dimensions, leading it to dance and swell before the viewer’s eyes. ‘I love pumpkins … because of their humorous form, warm feeling, and a human-like quality and form’, Kusama has said. ‘My desire to create works of pumpkins still continues. I have enthusiasm as if I were still a child’ (Y. Kusama, quoted in ‘Why Does Yayoi Kusama Love Pumpkins?’, Phaidon 2017).

Painted in 1993, Pumpkin was created at a pivotal time for Kusama, during which she rose to increasing fame in both the United States and Europe. During that year, she was selected to represent Japan at the 45th edition of the Venice Biennale, and for her exhibition she presented a group of yellow pumpkin sculptures in one of her mirrored Infinity Rooms. Following the Biennale, she continued to develop her pumpkin motif across a range of media, in sizes from the miniature to the monumental. Kusama’s fascination with pumpkins stems back to her childhood, when, during a trip to her grandparents’ plant nursery, she became fascinated with a pumpkin the size of a man’s head. Struck by its bulbous form, she made some initial sketches in the neo-traditional Japanese style of Nihonga, but soon put the subject aside. She did not revisit it until 1975, following her return to Japan after fifteen years in New York. Her fascination with the subject intensified over the ensuing decades, its frequent, almost obsessive repetition in her works echoing the hallucinations she had experienced since her youth.

The source of her creativity, Kusama’s all-consuming phantasms have long informed her practice, and doodles of flowers, foliage and vegetation can be found on the pages of her earliest sketchbooks. A source of familiar comfort for Kusama, her pumpkin hallucinations in particular hold a special, nostalgic significance in her oeuvre. ‘Giving off an aura of my sacred mental state’, she has said, ‘they embody a base for the joy of living, a living shared by all of humankind on the earth. It is for the pumpkins that I keep on going’ (Y. Kusama, ‘On Pumpkins,’ 2010). Through the humble fruit, she finds wonder in everyday life: a spirit that also fuels her obsessive, all-over polka dots, webs and nets. Bringing together some of her most personal motifs, Pumpkin is a glorious example of the fantastical, timeless beauty that lies at the core of Kusama’s practice.

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