Setouchi Triennale
US $316

Setouchi Triennale
Papers – Fabriano, Optix, card, metallic
Framed Size 640 x 450mm
What is it?
This enormous pumpkin sculpture by famous Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama sits by the water on Naoshima, one of a group of art islands in the Seto Inland Sea of Japan. The Setouchi Triennale has been held on Naoshima and surrounding islands since 2010 and brings additional art works to these islands, which have many permanent displays.
Naoshima has two art museums plus an “Art Hotel”, Benesse House, which crosses the boundaries between art museum and hotel. There are museums on other islands, outdoor sculptures and “Art Houses”, abandoned properties with art installations.
It all began in 1985 when the son of a wealthy publisher visited the islands to see where his father had planned to build some children’s campsites. The way of life of these island people provoked a revolution in his thinking. He set out to restore the islands’ beauty and its economy. The aim of the Triennale is to revitalise island communities that once thrived here.
When he inherited his father’s company in 1986, he renamed it Benesse (Latin for well-being). This provided him with the funds to pursue his vision.
The Museums
He employed famous Japanese architect Tadao Ando to design his buildings. The art was to be close to nature where people could establish a relationship with it. He also involved two artists whose work he owned in designing the spaces, and custom designed spaces for his Monet collection.
The Artist
Yayoi Kusama is a world-renowned Japanese artist in her 90s.She has a colourful history having lived in New York in the 1960s and influenced other artists such as Andy Warhol and Joseph Cornell.
She has suffered mental illness for most of her life and used to have hallucinations of pumpkins as a child. She found the pumpkin images comforting. She says "The first time I ever saw a pumpkin was when I was in elementary school and went with my grandfather to visit a big seed-harvesting ground…and there it was: a pumpkin the size of a man's head… It immediately began speaking to me in a most animated manner"
She also has an obsession with dots which she uses on large art installations to convey to her audience her own experiences of hallucinations and psychiatric trauma.
Fun Facts
  • More than half a million people a year visit the Benesse Art Sites to experience both the art and traditional Japanese life. In 2000 Naoshima Island was named by Conde Nast as one of the seven wonders of the modern world.
  • The founder says he has seen the older residents becoming increasingly vibrant and healthy as a result of their interaction with the art and with people visiting their island to see it. “I now define a happy community as one that is filled with smiling seniors who are masters of life. The smiles of seniors make the younger people smile.”

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