Yayoi Kusama is a cultural icon who survived the hectic artistic experience of New York in the ’60s and ’70s and has continued to impress us with her art today.
Known for her iconic sculptures, many of them covered entirely by dots, she has always been portrayed as a woman who struggled with her mental health and fears trough art. Most famously, she said she was terrified with the male organ and sculpted it in several forms, protruding from different spaces, even suitcases!
As Jonathan Liu pointed out on his review, she was not very known before but is now super famous. Since her work encompasses so many decades, I was happy to stumble upon Macellari’s biography. I love graphic biography novels; they cover so much terrain. And her choice of incorporating Kusama’s own work into her rendition is a genius move.
From her struggles with her parents in rural Japan, to her amazing correspondence with Georgia O’Keeffe, to her relentless approach to work, to her well-deserved fame, everything is portrayed beautifully.
Many pages are devoted to her performance art, which involved a lot of sex scenes, in many manifestations: men-men, trios, etc. She said she had a phobia for it and used these challenging acts of nudity and art to overcome said fears. She returned to Japan after many years, and even though America forgot her, she continued to do art even inside a psychiatric hospital.
You can’t encompass enough in a short biography novel, but what it is shown is very relevant and important. Yayoi struggles with her dotted visions and synergistic experiences, her fears and bad memories from her childhood, but she goes on. Her entire life, her resilience, that’s what’s celebrated here. I hope we have even more books about her.
Elisa Macellari is a Thai-Italian illustrator. Her clients include The New York Times, Corriere della Sera, Mondadori, Feltrinelli, and Nobrow Press.
Publication Date: September 15, 2020
Graphic Lives Series
Format: Hardcover, 400 illustrations.
Genre: Biography, Adult
Featured image by Elisa Macellari, all images belong to Laurence King Publishing