Yayoi Kusama’s Gigantic Inflatable Pumpkin Makes A Statement At Paris’ Place Vendôme

BY Rebecca Anne Proctor / Oct 20 2019 / 09:02 AM

As part of FIAC Hors les Murs, Kusama transforms the Place Vendôme into a playful vegetable garden

Yayoi Kusama’s Gigantic Inflatable Pumpkin Makes A Statement At Paris’ Place Vendôme
Photo by Rebecca Anne Proctor
An installation view of Life of the Pumpkin Recites, All About the Biggest Love for the People by Yayoi Kusama

A humongous yellow pumpkin stationed next to the Vendôme column is not the scene you’d expect to see while walking through Paris’ picturesque 1st arrondissement. It is if nonagenarian Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama has anything to do with it. For the eighth consecutive year FIAC Hors les Murs, the contemporary art fair’s exhibition of outdoor sculptural and installation works, has invited an artist to imagine a specific project for Paris’ iconic Place Vendôme. Past names include Jaume Plensa, Tadashi Kawamata, Paul McCarthy, Dan Graham, Ugo Rondinone, Oscar Tuazon and Elmgreen & Dragset.

Titled Life of the Pumpkin Recites, All About the Biggest Love for the People, at 10 x 10 x 10 metres the work is Kusama’s largest outdoor work to date. Covered in the artist’s signature polka dot pattern, visitors marveled at the work’s enchanting air during its inauguration – it adds a playful and almost humorous note to the stately French neoclassical architecture that characterizes the Vendôme.

Realized in collaboration with Victoria Miro, Ota Fine Arts and David Zwirner and scheduled to remain until 21 October, on 17 October the inflatable pumpkin had to be dismantled due to the harsh winds.


A view of Life of the Pumpkin Recites, All About the Biggest Love for the People by Yayoi Kusama

Photo by Rebecca Anne Proctor

“Place Vendôme is such an important and beautiful historical place,” said the artist in a statement. “I wish to convey the message of love and peace of my art to the people of Paris and the world.”

The dotted pumpkin, a recurring motif in Kusama’s art since the late 1940s, also embodies her artistic philosophy: The sun, moon and earth are spheres and each human being represents a unique polka dot amidst many. Each dot, according to Kusama, is unable to exist entirely on its own, and hence requires the presence of others. The artist’s ideal society is one in which each “dot” helps the other “dots” exist and thrive. In addition, Kusama’s repetitive use of forms represents the infinite realm of life.

“This project will reinforce the dialogue between contemporary creation and Parisian heritage sites and open up contemporary art to the wider public,” said Jennifer Flay, director of FIAC. “Kusama’s message of peace and love is extremely precious in these times of hostility between humankind and FIAC is honoured to be able to spread it to the widest possible audience.”

A view of Life of the Pumpkin Recites, All About the Biggest Love for the People by Yayoi Kusama

Photo by Rebecca Anne Proctor

Kusama’s short-lived inflatable pumpkin precedes a major exhibition by the artist opening on 9 November at David Zwirner in New York displaying around 60 works, including sculptures, paintings, installations and a crown jewel: a new Infinity Room.