'We have collected the parts': owners of Kusama's typhoon-battered pumpkin in Japan plan to restore it

Artist's huge sculpture at Benesse Art Site Naoshima was "severely damaged" when it was washed out to sea during stormy weather earlier this week

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Yayoi Kusama's sculpture, installed in 1994, was one of the largest pumpkins that artist had made up to that point and was also her first to be created with the intention of being exhibited outside

Yayoi Kusama's sculpture, installed in 1994, was one of the largest pumpkins that artist had made up to that point and was also her first to be created with the intention of being exhibited outside

The owners of a polka-dotted pumpkin sculpture by Yayoi Kusama, blown into the sea off the island of Naoshima in Japan, say that the piece is “severely damaged” but hope to repair the Instagram-friendly work.

The piece, which is over six feet tall and eight feet wide, usually sits on the tip of a pier but was dislodged by the stormy weather in the trail of Typhoon Lupit earlier this week. Images of the hollow sculpture being tossed in the Seto Inland Sea have since been a viral hit on social media.

A spokesman for the Benesse Art Site Naoshima, which owns the piece, tells The Art Newspaper: “We have already collected the parts and we are about to inspect the damage and also [assess] if it’s possible to recover the work. We are willing to re-exhibit the work on the same spot but we don’t know how long this [restoration] process will take.”

The sculpture was installed in 1994. According to a Benesse exhibition catalogue, “the work was one of the largest pumpkins Kusama had made up to that point, and it was also her first sculpture created with an initial intention to be exhibited in [the] open-air… Kusama’s Pumpkin painted in yellow with black dots continuously changes the everyday landscape into something new.”

The Benesse Art Site Naoshima is the name given to the various art venues located across the islands of Naoshima, Toshima, and Inushima, in the Seto Inland Sea area funded by Benesse Holdings and the Fukutake Foundation. The Benesse conglomerate specialises in publishing educational materials.

Yayoi Kusama standing next to Pumpkin (1994) on the 15th of September 1994, during her visit for the opening reception of the Out of Bounds exhibition at Benesse Art Site Naoshima © Benesse Art Site Naoshima

“Benesse Art Site Naoshima's origin can be traced back to the overlapping vision of two men. Tetsuhiko Fukutake, the founding president of Fukutake Publishing… and Chikatsugu Miyake, then incumbent mayor of Naoshima, who dreamt of developing a cultural and educational area on the island,” says the company website. Works by Elmgreen & Dragset, Richard Long and the Japanese artist Yukinori Yanagi are also on show at Benesse House Museum, which opened in 1992.

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