KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature
New York Botanical Garden
April 10, 2021 – October 31, 2021
The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) announces the opening of its expansive 2021 exhibition, KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature, featuring work by internationally celebrated Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. Postponed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the exhibition includes four experiences debuting at the Botanical Garden. NYBG is the exclusive venue for KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature. On view April 10 through October 31, 2021, the exhibition is installed across the Garden’s landscape, in and around the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, and in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library Building.
The exhibition, related programs, and accompanying publication reveal Kusama’s lifelong fascination with the natural world and its countless manifestations beginning in her childhood spent in the greenhouses and fields of her family’s seed nursery in Matsumoto, Japan. The exhibition includes works from throughout Kusama’s prolific career and multifaceted practice. By integrating seasonal horticultural displays, KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature further illuminates the power of nature that pervades the artist’s practice and dynamic body of work.
Multiple outdoor installations, including monumental sculptures of flora transform the Garden’s 250-acre landscape and the visitor experience. Her signature polka-dotted organic forms and mesmerizing paintings of plants and flowers are also represented. Recent vivid observations of nature, shown alongside earlier works that have never been publicly exhibited and those that are presented for the first time in the United States, trace Kusama’s connection to the natural world throughout her career.
Spectacular seasonal displays complement the artworks on view, making each visit unique as new plantings, textures, and palettes are introduced. 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 fall. In and around the Conservatory, Kusama’s plant-inspired polka-dotted sculptures are nestled among meadow grasses, bellflowers, water lilies, and other plantings. Stunning floral presentations bring to life one of Kusama’s paintings on view in the Mertz Library Building through a seasonal progression of violas, salvias, zinnias, and other colorful annuals. In fall, displays of meticulously trained k/ku (Japanese for “chrysanthemum,” one of that country’s most heralded fall-flowering plants) will create a dramatic finale for the Conservatory displays.
KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature guest curator Mika Yoshitake, Ph.D., said, “For Kusama, cosmic nature is a life force that integrates the terrestrial and celestial orders of the universe from both the micro- and macrocosmic perspectives she investigates in her practice. 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.”
Karen Daubmann, Vice President for Exhibitions and Audience Engagement at the Garden, said, “We are delighted to mount this very special exhibition this year, having postponed it in 2020 due to the pandemic. Yayoi Kusama kindly shared a message with us. On March 6, 2021, she wrote, in part, ‘Dancing through our universe are noble souls whose magnificent forms are saturated with mystery. I invite you to explore the endlessly expanding ode to the beauty of love that is my art.’ We look forward to sharing her singular vision at the nexus of art, nature, and the cosmos at the Garden – a site uniquely suited for this once-in-a-lifetime presentation”.