Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese contemporary artist who works primarily in sculpture and installation, but is also active in painting, performance, film, fashion, poetry, fiction, and other arts.
History in the Macy's Parade
As part of her 90th birthday, Yayoi Kusama introduced a brand-new heritage balloon in the 2019 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, as the 8th entry of the Blue Sky Gallery series. The Love Flies Up to the Sky balloon was developed by the artist from face motifs that appear in her My Eternal Soul series of paintings--a body of work that she began in 2009. Vibrant and animated, the paintings embody Kusama’s innovative exploration of form and revolve around a tension between abstraction and figuration. The artist’s signature dots — which recur throughout her practice — also feature prominently in the Macy’s Parade balloon design, and it is also only the second polka-dot balloon in the Parade’s history, with the first being the Clown in 1949.
A special video detailing the process of the balloon's development and creation was released on Macy's YouTube channel, and featured exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of the balloon's fabrication at the Macy's Parade Studio.
However, all the excitement for the balloon's debut was short-lived. During preparations for the 2019 Parade, overnight winds were gusting up to 40 mph causing the Love Flies Up to the Sky balloon to be shoved into a portable restroom trailer and a few ATM machines, causing its face to get punctured. Additionally, one of its tentacles was ripped open by a subway map kiosk. It was deflated shortly afterwards and shipped back to Macy’s Parade Studio. As a result, the balloon handlers would instead handle the Yellow Macy's Stars and the surviving Blue & White Macy's Star.
Despite this, the balloon was brought back for the re-imagined 2020 Parade, as to make up for the balloon's failed appearance the previous year. This time around, the balloon ended up succeeding in making its flight down the Parade route, thus giving it the distinction of being the second Blue Sky Gallery balloon to make more than one appearance (the first being Tom Otterness' Humpty Dumpty).
After the 2020 procession, the Love Flies Up to the Sky balloon was retired from the line of march.
- Yayoi Kusama is the first Ever female artist to enter a balloon for the Blue Sky Gallery series, and at age 90, she is also the oldest artist to contribute to the series.
- Strangely, Love is the only Blue Sky Gallery entry to not be included in the official poster or any other digital advertisements. However, it did appear on the welcome screen on the Parade's official website.
- Love is the first and currently only Blue Sky Gallery balloon to be removed from the Parade's line of march.