Serpentine Installs 19-Foot Pumpkin Sculpture by Yayoi Kusama

“I am sending to London with love my giant pumpkin,” said the 95-year-old Japanese contemporary artist.

Jul 9, 2024By Emily Snow, MA History of Art, BA Art History & Curatorial Studies



This week, London’s Serpentine Galleries unveiled a nineteen-foot pumpkin sculpture by the superstar contemproary artist Yayoi Kusama. Installed in Kensington Gardens, the yellow polka-dotted pumpkin is now open to the public through November 3, 2024. Kusama, who lives and works in Tokyo, turned ninety-five earlier this year. She is among the most successful living artists in the world.


Pumpkin (2024) is Kusama’s Tallest to Date

Pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama, 2024. Source: Serpentine Galleries, London.


Towering over nineteen and a half feet, Pumpkin (2024) is Yayoi Kusama‘s tallest bronze pumpkin sculpture to date. Serpentine Galleries, a free contemporary art gallery in London’s Kensington Gardens, installed Pumpkin near the Round Pond, an ornamental lake created in 1730. This location was chosen to allow viewers to interact with the sculpture up close and from multiple viewpoints—an impossible feat in Kusama’s mega-popular, oft-overcrowded interior installations. The gallery also said the sculpture’s outdoor placement facilitates its “dialogue with the surrounding environment” of the gardens.


“It is an honor to present this work by Yayoi Kusama in Kensington Gardens,” said Hans Ulrich Obrist, Serpentine’s artistic director. “Her signature pumpkins have become a landmark motif for the artist, and this project is a reunion for Kusama and Serpentine: her first major survey exhibition in Britain was staged in our galleries in 2000.”


“Pumpkins Have Been a Great Comfort,” Said Kusama

Yayoi Kusama with Pumpkin (2010), photographed in 2019. Source: Dazed.


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Yayoi Kusama is most famous for her distinctive installations, which range from kaleidoscopic mirrored chambers to colorful open-air sculptures. Pumpkins—in various shapes, sizes, colors, and patterns—frequently appear in her work. “Since my childhood, pumpkins have been a great comfort to me,” said Kusama, whose family operated a plant nursery and seed farm in Japan. “They are such tender things to touch, so appealing in color and form. They are humble and amusing at the same time and speak to me of the joy of living.”


Kusama began drawing pictures of pumpkins as a young elementary school student. At age seventeen, she exhibited her first pumpkin piece, Kabocha (Pumpkin), in a 1946 traveling exhibition in Japan. The motif has since dominated her paintings, installations, and sculptures. Kusama has been creating pumpkin sculptures intended for outdoor spaces since the 1990s. Of her most recent work, Kusama said, “I am sending my giant pumpkin to London with love.”


Yayoi Kusama at Serpentine Galleries

Installation view of Serpentine’s 2000 Yayoi Kusama retrospective. Source: Serpentine Galleries.


Yayoi Kusama’s 2024 Pumpkin is the latest in a decades-long series of free public art installations by Serpentine Galleries in London. It is also Kusama’s second major exhibition at Serpentine—the first being her debut UK retrospective in 2000, which explored her obsessions with polka dots, nets, food, and sex.


Serpentine has curated free contemporary art exhibitions in London for over fifty years. According to a recent press release, “Serpentine 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. Kusama’s Pumpkin, situated at the Round Pond in Kensington Gardens, is the latest in a long-standing series of remarkable public presentations in The Royal Parks since Serpentine’s foundation in 1970.”

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By Emily SnowMA History of Art, BA Art History & Curatorial StudiesEmily Snow is a contributing writer and art historian based in Amsterdam. She earned an MA in art history from the Courtauld Institute of Art and loves knitting, her calico cat, and everything Victorian.