Yayoi Kusama has one of the most recognizable styles of any contemporary artist. Her works are thrilling, exciting, ask you to look at things differently, and make for an Instagrammer’s paradise. So, it’s no wonder why her works are the subject of blockbuster exhibitions around the globe. In November, though, she’ll exhibit on a different stage: the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
As part of the Macy’s Blue Sky Gallery, a relatively new series of balloons included in the parade to highlight well-known contemporary artists, Kusama’s balloon will be on display for a whopping 3.5 million spectators who attend the parade each year and another 50 million viewers in the USA. The parade will also coincide with her soon-to-open exhibition of works at David Zwirner New York in Chelsea.
Now in her 90s, Kusama teamed up with balloon specialists to bring her works to life, in the form of a 30-feet-long, 36-feet-wide, and 34-feet-tall balloon that will be handled by a team of 20 people during the parade. To make the balloon, which is called Love Flies Up to the Sky, the balloon makers use a special 3D modelling system to create a finished product that floats and is aerodynamic to boot. The process entails the work of a number of artists within the Macy’s Parade Studio working in close collaboration with Kusama to get the work just right.
Contrary to what you might expect, Love Flies Up to the Sky doesn’t include any of Kusama’s iconic pumpkins. Instead, the balloon will feature a sunburst-like design that was a part of her ‘My Eternal Soul’ paintings, which she began in 2009. While the pumpkin won’t be present, the polka dots and bright colours she’s known for will.
Kusama joins the ranks of the Blue Sky Gallery, which began in 2005, as the eighth artist to have their work balloon-ized, although she is the first woman to make the cut. Last year, after a five-year hiatus, the Los Angeles-based art duo FriendsWithYou was added to the gallery with a balloon edition of their signature cartoon, Little Cloud. In 2012, KAWS contributed Companion, in 2010, Takashi Murakami was represented by KaiKai and KiKi, and in 2007, none other than Jeff Koons showed Rabbit to parade-goers.
The Blue Sky Gallery, according to Susan Tercero, executive producer of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, is ‘a collection of high-flying art worthy of museums around the world.’
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is an annual event in New York City. In its 93rd year, the parade will begin at 9am and runs until 12pm EST. However, it is aired on NBC-TV at the same time in all time zones in the US.