Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism.
A new biography of Yayoi Kusama is out from Laurence King Publishing this month, in graphic novel form. It sounds like something that should have already existed, and yet it is the first of its kind. Written and illustrated by Elisa Macellari, Kusama: The Graphic Novel follows the artist’s life, from her challenging childhood in Japan to her skyrocketing rise to fame around the world. At the heart of the book lies the story of how art became a lifeline for Kusama, especially as she struggled with hallucinations and crippling anxiety from her teenage years onward.
In the excerpt below, Macellari time travels to Kusama’s life in 1960s New York City, when the artist became “the high priestess of love and pacifism.” In joyous illustrations, Macellari recreates the artist’s “polka dot happenings” and “Body Festivals,” in which naked performers were covered in Kusama’s signature, mesmerizing dots. We’re also treated to imaginings of Kusama’s dinner dates with none other than her good friend, the artist Salvador Dalí.
* * *