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Yayoi Kusama’s Major U.S. Exhibition Postponed Due to Coronavirus

By Sarah Buder

Apr 2, 2020

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A major New York Botanical Garden exhibition featuring new and earlier works by renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama has been postponed to spring 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 has been postponed to spring 2021.

A career-spanning display of the Japanese artist’s installations, paintings, and sculptures set to debut exclusively at the New York Botanical Garden in May has been rescheduled for spring 2021.

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This 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 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 9 through November 1, 2020. Many of Kusama’s artworks were set to be exhibited for the first time in the United States.

However, in an email sent to NYBG members and ticket holders on Thursday, April 2, the botanical garden announced that Kusama: Cosmic Nature will be postponed until next year in order to help contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The highly anticipated Kusama exhibit will be rescheduled for spring through fall 2021. Exact dates have yet to be announced.

Anyone who purchased Kusama: Cosmic Nature tickets online “will be automatically refunded and receive an e-mail confirmation within four to six weeks,” reads the NYBG email. The institution “will be in touch” with those who purchased tickets on-site or over the phone about processing a refund. Still, “this could take a bit more time . . . as we work remotely to manage the large volume of orders at hand,” the Bronx institution says.

The NYGB announcement also included a special note from Kusama herself. “The passion that I and those at the New York Botanical Garden have poured into this exhibition is still burning. Everyone, I hope you will wait,” the artist wrote, signing the email: “With all my heart, Yayoi Kusama. ”

While it’s not yet clear exactly when the exhibit will be rescheduled for, or when tickets for the new dates will go on sale, NYBG shared that members will again receive presale access to tickets before they’re available to the public. We’ll update this article when further information becomes available. Luckily, in the meantime, we still have lots of details about the Kusama: Cosmic Nature exhibition to look forward to—keep reading for more.

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.

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When Kusama: Cosmic Nature does finally debut next year, 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.)

In addition to these artworks, many of which will be on view for the first time in the United States, Kusama: Cosmic Nature will debut four completely new works 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. A timed-entry pass will be required to access this particular installation; it can be purchased online as part of a Kusama: Cosmic Nature ticket package when those go back on sale for spring 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. “This presentation will stand apart from previous exhibitions of Yayoi Kusama’s work because it is rooted in the artist’s profound and enduring exploration of nature,” NYBG president Carrie Rebora Barratt said in a press release.

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.

Come spring 2021, visitors to the exclusive exhibit at 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.

This article originally appeared online in November 2019; it was updated on April 2, 2020, to include current information.

>> Next: Virtual Museum Tours, Performances, and Tutorials to Keep You Entertained at Home

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