Last Updated on May 30, 2024

Serpentine Galleries and The Royal Parks announce the unveiling of a new large-scale sculpture by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929,Matsumoto, Japan; lives and works in Tokyo, Japan). Located by the Round Pond in Kensington GardensPumpkin (2024) will be staged from 9 July to 3 November 2024.

Pumpkin (2024) marks a return to Serpentine for Kusama which was the location of her first retrospective exhibition in Britain in 2000. This major survey included paintings, collages, watercolours, sculptures, documentation of performances and films, all of which explored Kusama’s obsessions with dots, nets, food and sex.

The work on view in Kensington Gardens is Kusama’s tallest bronze pumpkin sculpture to date, standing at 6 metres tall and 5.5 metres in diameter. Installed prominently by the Round Pond, Pumpkin (2024) can be seen from a wide variety of viewpoints and perspectives creating an intriguing dialogue with the surrounding environment of the Park. 

Known for her immersive installations, large-scale sculptures and intricate paintings, Yayoi Kusama often features kabocha, or pumpkin, in her work. Since 1946 Kusama’s pumpkins have taken many forms, colours and shapes, but their surfaces are consistently covered in the artist’s signature repeating polka dot pattern.  

Kusama’s relationship to the kabocha is rooted in her childhood: the artist’s family cultivated the plant’s seeds, and their home was surrounded by fields of this squash. Pumpkins frequently appear as stand-ins for self-portraits. Kusama admires them for their everyday quality, hardiness, and unique, frequently humorous forms.

“I am sending to London with love my giant pumpkin,” Kusama said. “Since my childhood, pumpkins have been a great comfort to me, they are such tender things to touch, so appealing in colour and form. They are humble and amusing at the same time and speak to me of the joy of living.”

Kusama;s first major survey exhibition in Britain was staged at the Serpentine Galler in 2000.

The artist’s sculptures have been installed in museums and galleries around the world, and various outdoor spaces, including parks, gardens and at the seaside. Since 1994, a yellow and black pumpkin is permanently on display at the Benesse Art Site Naoshima – an island in Japan’s inland sea dedicated to displaying art within nature. 

Serpentine Galleries Art in Public Places

Since it launched in 1970, Serpentine Galleries has had a long-standing commitment to bringing art out of the traditional gallery context and into the surrounding landscape, offering an opportunity for artists to engage with the immediate environment of Kensington Gardens.

Blow Up ‘71, the first summer show of 1971 featured a week-long outdoor exhibition of inflatables, flying sculpture, and ‘art sports’ in the Royal Parks.

Further exhibitions presented both in the park and at Serpentine include Henry Moore (1978) and Anthony Caro (1984). Sculptures exclusively featured in the Park included Denys Short (1973), John Hoskin (1975), Alfred Dunn (1976), Eduardo Paolozzi (1987), Ron Haselden (1990) and Tony Smith (1996).

Serpentine commissions of public artworks have ranged from a permanent installation of a stone circle and benches by Ian Hamilton Finley for the 1996 exhibition Inside Out.

In recent years, public art has emerged as a central strand of Serpentine’s programm. Major presentations include Anish Kapoor’s Turning the World Upside Down (2010), featuring four works, including his iconic Sky Mirrors, placed in locations across the parkFischli/Weiss’s sculpture Rock on Top of Another Rock (2013), Betrand Lavier’s Fountain (2014): and Lee Ufan’s Relatum – Stage (2018-19). In 2018, Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s monumental London Mastaba was installed in the Serpentine Lake and marked their first major public artwork in the UK and the final outdoor artwork completed in Christo’s lifetime. Jakob Kudsk Steensen’s augmented reality project The Deep Listener (2019), Sofia Al Maria’s commission Taraxos (2021) and Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg’s Pollinator Pathmaker (2022 – 2023) have brought a younger generation of artist’s commissions to the park.  

About Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama is one of the most celebrated artists of our time. Over the course of her eight-decade career, she has developed a unique and diverse body of work that, highly personal in nature, connects profoundly with global audiences.

Known for her signature motifs including the polka-dot and pumpkin, Kusama’s extraordinary artistic endeavours have spanned painting, drawing, collage, sculpture, performance, film, printmaking, installation and environmental art as well as literature, fashion (most notably in her 2012 and 2023 collaboration with Louis Vuitton) and product design.

About Serpentine 

Building new connections between artists and audiences, Serpentine presents pioneering contemporary art exhibitions and cultural events with a legacy that stretches back over half a century, from a wide range of emerging practitioners to the most internationally recognised artists, writers, scientists, thinkers, and cultural thought leaders of our time.  

Based in London’s Kensington Gardens, across two sites, Serpentine North and Serpentine South, Serpentine features a year-round, free programme of exhibitions, architectural showcases, education, live events and technological activations, in the park and beyond the gallery walls.  

Proud to maintain free access for all visitors, thanks to its unique location, Serpentine also reaches an exceptionally broad audience and maintains a profound connection with its local community. 

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