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New Yayoi Kusama sculpture takes center stage in downtown Des Moines at the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park

Posted on Monday, February 26, 2018

For Immediate Release
Contact: Barbara Briggie-Smith
Tel: 515.271.0343
Email: bbsmith@desmoinesartcenter.org

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New Yayoi Kusama sculpture takes center stage in downtown Des Moines at the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park

DES MOINES, IOWA (February 2018) – Philanthropists John and Mary Pappajohn have donated funds to the Des Moines Art Center for the purchase of a new sculpture, Pumpkin (L), 2014, fabricated 2018, by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, soon to be installed in the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park in downtown Des Moines.

Pumpkins are one of the artist’s most beloved motifs. Both endearing and grotesque, the giant gourds have been a source of inspiration for the artist since her childhood, when she was surrounded by her family’s seed nursery in prewar Japan. She sees pumpkins as representing growth, comfort, familiarity, protectiveness, nourishment, and whimsy. The element of dots, often seen in the artist’s work, suggests the notion of infinity, repetition, and obsession. For the artist, pumpkins also represent a source of radiant energy. She has written, “Pumpkins bring about poetic peace in my mind. Pumpkins talk to me.” Viewing the pumpkin as both humble and amusing, this whimsical vegetable comes to represent an alternative self-portrait of the artist.

Kusama is one of the most significant artists working today. At 88, she has been a working artist for 65 years. Currently, her five-city exhibition Infinity Mirrors is traveling North America to blockbuster attendance, and response from both the field and the public has been overwhelming. Requests for the Art Center’s four Kusama works currently in the permanent collections are constantly requested for exhibitions at other institutions worldwide. 

Kusama is one of the most significant artists working today. At 88, she has been a working artist for 65 years. Currently, her five-city exhibition Infinity Mirrors is traveling North America to blockbuster attendance, and response from both the field and the public has been overwhelming. Requests for the Art Center’s four Kusama works currently in the permanent collections are constantly requested for exhibitions at other institutions worldwide.

The Art Center is organizing a related exhibition, opening March 30, 2018.

About the Des Moines Art Center

Recognized by international art critics as a world-class museum in the heart of the Midwest, the Des Moines Art Center has amassed an important collection with a major emphasis on contemporary art. The collection’s overriding principle is a representation of artists from the 19th century to the present, each through a seminal work. This accounts for an impressive collection that ranges from Edward Hopper’s Automat to Jasper Johns’ Tennyson, Henri Matisse’s Woman in White, Georgia O’Keeffe’s From the Lake No. 1, Francis Bacon’s Study after Velásquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, Bill Viola’s Ascension, and Cecily Brown’s Half-Bind.

The Art Center’s physical complex marries with the collection for a totally integrated experience. The collection is housed in three major buildings, each designed by a world-renowned architect – Eliel Saarinen, I. M. Pei, and Richard Meier. With the exception of special events, admission to the museum is free.

In September 2009, the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park opened in Des Moines’ Western Gateway Park. Philanthropists John and Mary Pappajohn have provided funding for and donated 28 sculptures by internationally acclaimed contemporary artists to the Des Moines Art Center. The collection of sculptures by such artists as Louise Bourgeois, Deborah Butterfield, Willem de Kooning, Olafur Eliasson, Keith Haring, Ellsworth Kelly, Jaume Plensa, Richard Serra, Joel Shapiro, and Mark di Suvero, is the most significant donation of artwork to the Art Center in a single gift in the museum’s history. The Pappajohn Sculpture Park was created in collaboration with the Pappajohns, the City of Des Moines, the Des Moines Art Center, and numerous corporate and private donors.

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