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Yayoi Kusama’s Major U.S. Exhibition Will Finally Debut Spring 2021

By Sarah Buder

Feb 1, 2021

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A major New York Botanical Garden exhibition featuring new and earlier works by renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama will debut on April 10, 2021.

Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo / Singapore / Shanghai; Victoria Miro, London; David Zwirner, New York

A major New York Botanical Garden exhibition featuring new and earlier works by renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama will debut on April 10, 2021.

A career-spanning display of the Japanese artist’s installations, paintings, and sculptures will open exclusively at the New York Botanical Garden this April after the exhibition was postponed in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Last spring, the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) was scheduled to become the sole venue for Kusama: Cosmic Nature, a sprawling exhibition of installations, paintings, and sketches from Yayoi Kusama’s seven-decade career. The exhibit was planned to be spread across 250 acres at the massive Bronx institution, which has been listed as a National Historic Landmark since 1967, from May through November 2020. However, like many other major events and exhibitions throughout 2020, Kusama: Cosmic Nature was postponed to help curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, the highly anticipated Kusama exhibit has officially been rescheduled for April 10 through October 31, 2021. When Kusama: Cosmic Nature finally debuts this spring, many of Kusama’s artworks will be on display for the first time in the United States.

The rescheduled “Kusama: Cosmic Nature” exhibit will feature creations by the Japanese artist that have never been displayed in the United States, including four completely new artworks.

As part of the NYBG’s Kusama: Cosmic Nature exhibit, several of Kusama’s signature works, such as her massive polka-dotted flora sculptures, will be on display across the outdoor gardens, as well as inside several historic buildings on the grounds. Alongside these popular contemporary works, the exhibit will showcase some of Kusama’s earlier creations, including botanical sketches that date back to her childhood in Nakatsutaya, Japan, where her family owned a plant nursery. (The acclaimed artist was born in Japan’s Nagano Prefecture in 1929.)

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In addition to these artworks, Kusama: Cosmic Nature will debut four completely new creations by the artist, such as a 16-foot sculpture titled Dancing Pumpkin (2020), which viewers can approach from multiple angles, including from below, as well as an “immersive” greenhouse installation called Flower Obsession (2020), where visitors can apply flower stickers to the interior. The NYBG presentation will also unveil Infinity Mirrored Room—Illusion Inside the Heart (2020), which will be similar to Kusama’s other hugely famous mirrored installations, save for its outdoor location and its ability to respond to changing daily and seasonal light. (Due to COVID-19 safety guidelines, interior access to the Infinity Mirrored Room installation will be off-limits during spring. NYBG organizers say they will evaluate the situation and hope to open the installation to visitors during summer.) The Bronx institution is currently enforcing an advanced, timed-entry ticketing system for all exhibitions. Kusama: Cosmic Nature ticket packages go on sale March 16, 2021.

The exclusive NYBG exhibit will mark the first-ever comprehensive exploration of Kusama’s enduring fascination with the natural world.

Throughout the exhibition’s run, garden horticulturists will create spectacular indoor and outdoor displays to complement, or be “in conversation” with Kusama’s creations. In spring, for example, the landscapes surrounding particular artworks will be planted with tulips and irises; during fall, they will feature autumnal kiku (Japanese for “chrysanthemum”), according to NYBG organizers. 

Yayoi Kusama’s famously Instagram-friendly exhibitions are known to draw crowds in nearly every city they visit, and New York City is no exception. In 2017, Kusama’s Infinity Nets and Festival of Life exhibitions at the David Zwirner gallery attracted a total of 75,000 people—some of whom waited in line for up to six hours to see the artist’s installations. Last year, her Every Day I Pray for Love exhibit at the same New York gallery welcomed up to 100,000 visitors during its month-long run.

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Come spring, visitors to the exclusive exhibit at the Bronx’s botanical gardens will have the opportunity to marvel over some of Kusama’s most popular works set against the very type of natural backdrop that inspired her flower-filled aesthetic. That is, however, if they’re willing to wait in the exhibit’s entry lines, which might be as impressive as Kusama’s artwork in their enduring length.

Kusama: Cosmic Nature tickets go on sale to the general public on March 16, 2021. Admission is $35 for adults, $32 for seniors and students, and $15 for youth between 12 and 2 years old. Children under 2 enter for free.

This article originally appeared online in November 2019; it was updated on February 1, 2o21, to include current information.

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