Famed Yayoi Kusama sculpture swept away to sea during typhoon in Japan

In a video, the work can be seen being tossed by waves near Naoshima Island

A valuable sculpture by renowned artist Yayoi Kusama was swept into the sea on Monday as Typhoon Lupit hit Japan.

In a video posted on Twitter, the 1.8-metre-tall sculpture called Pumpkin, coloured bright yellow and covered in black polka dots, can be seen being tossed about by crashing waves close to the shore of Naoshima Island.

The work had been dislodged from its site along the island’s pier because of strong winds and high tides.

The video revealed visible cracks on the piece as it tumbled in the water. Pumpkin has since been retrieved and is now being held at the Benesse Art Site Naoshima, according to The Washington Post. It is currently being restored and the art centre told the publication it would announce when the work would be displayed again.

In the past, the sculpture has been temporarily removed ahead of typhoons to avoid any damage, but the unexpected rapid intensity of Typhoon Lupit had caught the centre off-guard.

Pumpkin was installed at the site in 1994 and has become one of Naoshima Island’s art landmarks. Measuring more than 2.4 metres wide, it is one of Kusama’s largest pumpkin sculptures from that period.

In 2017, another Kusama work also endured damage, this time in the US. Her yellow pumpkin sculptures were featured in the exhibition Infinity Mirrors at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC as part of her installation.

Inside the room, several pumpkins were surrounded by mirrors, creating an endless landscape. A visitor lost his footing and accidentally damaged one of the pieces.

The motif of the pumpkin is a crucial and recognisable part of the artist’s practice, stemming from a childhood fascination with the vegetable. Pumpkin from 1994 marks the beginning of Kusama’s public installations that were also displayed in Europe and the US.

Updated: August 10th 2021, 3:42 PM
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