The bronze pumpkins have been two years in the making and marked the first time Kusama has worked with bronze on such a large scale.
Since her earliest formative years, in a family who made their living cultivating plant seeds, Kusama has been fascinated by the natural world. She has always had an affinity with nature, particularly vegetal and floral life, but the pumpkin continues to occupy a special place in her iconography and is a motif she has returned to repeatedly throughout her career.
The plant appears in some of her paintings and works on paper as early as 1948. After her return from New York to Japan in the 1970s she rediscovered the theme and began making serial works depicting the pumpkin in various media: paintings; prints; sculpture; installation; and environmental works. She has made tiny pumpkins no bigger than a key ring, and monumental pumpkins that dwarf the viewer with their scale. She has placed pumpkins in boxed structures and mirror rooms, and used the distinctive knobbly patterning of their skins as inspiration for her unique dot-patterned paintings and textiles. In 1993 pumpkins formed part of her presentation in the Japanese Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. In 1994, her iconic exterior sculpture of a large yellow and black pumpkin was sited at the Benesse Art Site Naoshima, an island in Japan’s inland sea dedicated to displaying art within nature.