If you follow the art world or have some interest in art you would have heard of the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. A group of five of her paintings were recently sold for $22.9 million dollars at a Sotheby’s Auction in Hong Kong. This is one of the highest bids that the artist has ever received for her artworks in an auction.
Yayoi Kusama is somebody whose work has crossed from art to fashion, from filmmaking to performance art, and from installations to immersive art experiences. The 96-year-old artist continues to push the boundaries of her art constantly and is one of the most radical artists of our time.
Her 2014 bronze sculpture, ‘Pumpkin’ was sold to a phone bidder with Nicholas Chow, the Auction house’s chairman. The sculpture was sold for $7.98 million dollars, setting a new record for the artist. Yayoi’s continuing exploration of the polka dot has been a recurring motif in her artworks, the bronze pumpkin is also seen lined with polka dots. Her fascination with the Pumpkin has also been reflected in many of her other works such as pumpkin infinity rooms, pumpkin bracelets, shoes, paintings and more. Her first pumpkin artwork was made in her teenage years, however, she has been incorporating that fruit in her artworks since the 1940s. It was in the ‘Mirror Room’ (pumpkin) in 1991, ‘Reach up the Universe’, the dotted pumpkin made in 2010 and now the famed bronze pumpkin with black polka dots that have been sold at a staggering price.
“I love pumpkins,” the artist explained in a 2015 interview, “because of their humorous form, warm feeling, and a human-like quality and form. My desire to create works of pumpkins still continues. I have enthusiasm as if I were still a child.”
Her other work which gained a lot of eyeballs at the Sotheby’s auction was the piece made in the year 2018, called ‘My Heart is Flying to the Universe’, it was sold by an anonymous seller, who had originally bought it from David Zwirner, the work was sold for $3.29 million dollars. This unique piece is a mirrored box with LED lighting which has a cutout in the exterior, big enough for the viewers to peek inside, the piece is reminiscent of her ‘Infinity Mirrored Room – My Heart is Dancing into the Universe’. You can see the dots lining up the walls of the box that change colour. The piece reflects the same boundlessness and transcendence as the mirror rooms that Yayoi has created.
Yayoi Kusama’s auction record has now been changed with the selling of these artworks. Her current auction record stands at $10.9 million; it was set by an “Infinity Nets” painting sold in 2022 at Phillips. With the auctioning of such pieces, the art market is doing substantially well according to the 2022 edition of the Art Basel Report. The market earlier was declining due to prolonged Covid restrictions, sales were down to 14% since 2009. However, Kusama’s works have now changed the state of the current market.