“Kusama: Cosmic Nature” at The New York Botanical Garden

Imaginative large-scale art set among seasonal floral displays

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Amidst the rising number of digital-art theme parks and museums dedicated to sensory stimulation, those of us who attend exhibitions often ask: is this experience for Instagram or for me? A walk through The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) for their resplendent celebration of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature, will certainly yield a gallery of exciting photos, but that’s far from the exhibit’s point. It’s a soul-nourishing stroll through the prolific artist’s career, anchored in imagination and punctuated by majesty. Planting Kusama’s work into the lush 250-acre landscape, among fresh flowers and towering trees, enhances the dialogue the artist has long embraced with nature.

by David Graver

Works pepper the grounds. They flower within and around the Enid A Haupt Conservatory, where visitors uncover one astounding sight after another. The art tucked there is an undeniable highlight, especially considering that Kusama spent her childhood inside the greenhouses of her family’s seed nursery. The exhibition also continues at the LuEsther T Mertz Library Building. Throughout it all, there are moments of explosive color. Signature Kusama shapes (including the polka dot) appear time and again. Guest curator Mika Yoshitake integrated Kusama’s sculptures into seasonal floral displays that would warrant a visit of their own without the art, too.

by David Graver

KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature is on now through 31 October at the Bronx institution. Tickets must be purchased online in advance. Dedicated tickets for entry into Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrored Room—Illusion Inside the Heart” (2020) will be available to purchase in late spring.

The KUSAMA: Cosmic Nature image gallery courtesy of The New York Botanical Garden