After three years of planning and a pandemic-forced delay, the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx has joyfully announced the opening of its major exhibition for 2021. Titled ‘KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature’, the eye-popping survey features work by internationally celebrated Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama amid a carefully choreographed display of seasonal floriculture.
Kusama’s otherworldly paintings of plants and flowers plus works that have never been publicly displayed are joined by some of her most ambitious and recognisable sculptures, installed in and around the majestic Conservatory, Library Building and throughout the 250-acre garden landscape.
Yayoi Kusama at The New York Botanical Garden
- The New York Botanical Garden has announced the opening of ‘KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature’, a survey of work by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.
- The exhibition is on display in the Garden’s Conservatory, Library Building and throughout the 250-acre garden landscape.
- Stunning floral displays that change each season have been carefully choreographed to complement the exhibition.
- Timed tickets are on sale until the exhibition closes on October 31.
The exhibition, its related programs and accompanying publication offer a glimpse into Kusama’s lifelong fascination with the natural world and its countless manifestations, beginning in her childhood in the greenhouses and fields of her family’s seed nursery in Matsumoto, Japan.
“For Kusama, cosmic nature is a life force that integrates the terrestrial and celestial orders of the universe from both the micro- and macro-cosmic perspectives she investigates in her practice,” says exhibition curator Mika Yoshitake.
“Her explorations evoke meanings that are both personal and universal. Nature is not only a central source of inspiration, but also integral to the visceral effects of Kusama’s artistic language in which organic growth and the proliferation of life are made ever-present.”
Highlights of the display begin on the Conservatory Lawn where visitors are confronted by the monumental Dancing Pumpkin (2020), a nearly 5-metre high bronze sculpture painted in an unforgettable combination of black and yellow. As playful as it is powerful, the piece is sited in a verdant landscape of flowering shrubs, grasses, ferns, and river birches – a nod to the forests that surrounded Kusama’s childhood home.
From there, visitors might marvel at the psychedelic, purple-tentacled floral form of I Want to Fly to the Universe (2020) in the Visitor Center Reflecting Pool, and then behold Ascension of Polka Dots on the Trees (2002/2021), where the trunks of soaring trees are sheathed in vibrant red with white polka dots along Garden Way.
Among the resident ducks, the 1400 stainless-steel spheres of Narcissus Garden (1966/2021) are installed in the 70-metre-long water feature of the Native Plant Garden. Each measuring in at nearly 30 centimetres in diameter, the reflective orbs float on the water’s surface, spinning and drifting in the wind while mirroring the environment around them to mesmerising effect.
Kusama’s otherworldly paintings of plants and flowers plus works that have never been publicly displayed are joined by some of her most ambitious and recognisable sculptures.
Spectacular seasonal displays complement the artworks on view, making each visit to the exhibition unique as new plantings, textures, and painterly palettes burst into life. Glorious outdoor displays of tulips and irises in spring give way to dahlias and sunflowers in summer, and masses of pumpkins and autumnal flowers in autumn.
Stunning floral presentations bring to life one of Kusama’s paintings on view in the library through a seasonal progression of violas, salvias, zinnias, and other colourful annuals. In autumn, displays of meticulously trained kiku (Japanese for chrysanthemum, one of that country’s most heralded autumn-flowering plants) will create a dramatic finale for the Conservatory displays.
Timed entry tickets are available for ‘KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature’ until October 31.