The pumpkin, the polka dot and the inflatable
Life of the Pumpkin Recites
Each year, FIAC Hors les Murs invites an artist to imagine a specific project for the Place Vendome, which provides both powerful inspiration and an exceptional framework for contemporary creation. Like a jewel set in stone, built in perfect classical symmetry, The Place Vendome exemplifies creation, excellence and savoir-faire. Over the years, it has showcased a series of bold and diverse projects including works by Jaume Plensa, Tadashi Kawamata, Paul McCarthy, Dan Graham, Ugo Rondinone, Oscar Tuazon and Elmgreen & Dragset.
In collaboration with Victoria Miro, Ota Fine Arts, and David Zwirner, FIAC 2019 is proud to present an exceptional in situ creation by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.
Life of the Pumpkin Recites,
All About the Biggest Love for the People, 2019
Victoria Miro, London, Venice
Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo, Singapore, Shanghai
David Zwirner, New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong
One of the world’s most influential and critically acclaimed artists, Yayoi Kusama has produced an oeuvre across diverse media and disciplines in a career spanning more than seventy years. An important part of her practice since the 1960s has been large-scale installations: artworks that take over an entire space, be that her own studio or the walls, floors and ceiling of a gallery. More recently, since the late 1990s Kusama has worked on numerous public art projects, extending her creativity outdoors into the public domain. These experiences have directly informed her approach to producing a new work for Place Vendôme. For this work, Kusama expands on several of the most recognisable motifs of her visual language: The pumpkin, the polka dot and the inflatable. Kusama wasvery happy to realising her creative vision in the iconic Parisian site of Place Vendôme.
The artist installed a giant inflatable pumpkin sculpture near the Vendôme Column, covered with her signature polka dot pattern. The pumpkin form has been a recurring motif in Kusama’s art since the late 1940s. The artist’s family cultivated plant seeds in Matsumoto, and she was familiar with the kabocha squash in the fields that surrounded her childhood home. Writing about the significance of pumpkins in her 2002 book Infinity Net: the Autobiography of Yayoi Kusama (first translated into English in 2011), the artist notes:
‘It seems that 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. That and its solid spiritual balance.’
Kusama’s polka dots and her concept of infinite repetition are now widely known, not just in the art world but amongst a wider public. For Kusama, the repetitive expression of forms reaching to the infinite is a key part of her aesthetic approach, as are her versatility and virtuosity in making these motifs in different media and for different contexts.
Kusama has incorporated inflatables in her work for the past twenty years, but her proposal for Place Vendôme is by far the largest work of this type she has proposed to date. With this project, Kusama extends her imagery into the architecture and landscape, encouraging an engaged viewing from all angles. In her art philosophy, Kusama defines the sun, the moon and the earth as spheres and each human being as a unique polka dot among many. She describes how each dot is unable to stand on its own, but requires the presence of others, allowing us to visualise an ideal human society in which each ‘dot’ helps and supports the others.
Kusama wants to share her message:
‘I would be pleased to show my art in Place Vendôme, such an important and beautiful historical place, and further wish to convey the message of love and peace of my art to the people of Paris and the world.’
FIAC receives the support of Mirabaud, Financial and Banking Group founded in Geneva in 1819.