WASHINGTON – Multimedia artist Yayoi Kusama is keeping up a torrid pace at 90 — backing up sold-out exhibits at museums around the world with fresh works, more shows and even a balloon designed for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City.
Kusama’s balloon, “Love Flies Up to the Sky,” is a round character that looks like a cross between a sun and a starfish. Featuring 300 of the artist’s signature hand-painted dots, it will soar 34 feet (10.3 meters) tall and stretch about 30 feet wide, according to Macy’s.
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Forty handlers will help guide the massive balloon along the 2.7-mile (4.3-km) route as it takes its place alongside Snoopy, Pikachu and other parade regulars on Nov. 28. It’s being built by Macy’s balloon specialists to specifications provided by the artist’s studio in Japan.
Some 3 million people typically flood the streets of New York to watch the parade, and more than 20 million tune in from home. It’ll be the biggest audience yet for Kusama, whose retrospectives have caused mad scrambles for tickets at museums from Washington to London to Tokyo in recent years.
The artist has been active since the 1950s and became a global sensation in her 80s. “Kusama: Cosmic Nature,” a mix of old and new works displayed both inside and out, will take over the 250-acre (100-hectare) New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx for six months from May 2.
The exhibit will include a display of sketchbooks that show Kusama’s long fascination with nature, a participatory greenhouse installation, and a “monumental site-specific pumpkin sculpture.” Pumpkins, often on a giant scale, have recurred in Kusama’s art for decades.
“In a lifetime of finding inspiration in nature and pushing against boundaries and biases, she developed a unique lexicon for artistic expression,” Carrie Rebora Barratt, president and chief executive officer of the botanical garden, said in a statement.
Tickets go on sale in January. Her work will also be displayed this month at the David Zwirner Gallery in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, in a show titled “Every Day I Pray for Love.”
The exhibition will include new paintings in Kusama’s “My Eternal Soul” series and “Dancing Lights That Flew Up to the Universe,” the latest of the artist’s signature Infinity Mirror Rooms.
The free exhibit will run for five weeks starting Saturday. The gallery anticipates “wait times of more than two hours to enter,” it says on its website. Kusama’s 2017-2018 show at the same venue attracted some 75,000 people over 80 days, according to artnet.com.
In the meantime, just five blocks away, Mucciaccia Gallery will exhibit 28 works by the artist from Nov. 10 to Jan. 30. Kusama’s signature Infinity polka-dot paintings will be on view, along with sculpture pieces from her series “Hi, Konnichiwa (Hello)!,” which were first presented in the solo exhibition Kusamatrix held in 2004 at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo.
Boston’s Institute for Contemporary Art is currently showing Kusama’s “Love is Calling” exhibit, and is sold out through November. Tickets for December and January went on sale Nov. 5 to museum members and were to be available from Tuesday to the general public.
Kusama’s bright pop-art pieces are fun for all ages (she’s loved by kids, and has been the subject of a children’s book) and also highly bankable. Her 1960 piece “White No. 28” sold for $7.1 million at a 2014 Christie’s auction, one of the highest prices paid for a work by a living woman artist.