Yayoi Kusama's life and career chronicled in graphic novel format for the first time
Next in Laurence King's Graphic Lives series is an in-depth illustrated look into the artist's multi-layered work and transatlantic artist journey.
- Lucy Bourton
- 15 September 2020
- Reading Time
- 2 minute read
In the third of Laurence King’s “Graphic Lives” series – in which illustrators chronicle the lives of artists in storyboard format – Thai-Italian illustrator Elisa Macellari has written a graphic novel on the life and work of Yayoi Kusama.
The first graphic novel on the beloved artist, Elisa illustrates the incredible life of Kusama, detailing her “bold departure from Japan as a young artist, her embrace of the buzzing New York art scene in the 1960s, and her eventual return home and rise to twenty-first-century super-fame,” explains Laurence King. “Macellari renders Kusama’s fascinating life in an amazing graphic style, offering a new way to look at one of the best-known and most intriguing artists of our time.”
A long-time fan of Kusama’s works, Elisa has additionally written a foreword to the title, called “Obsession, Love and Art”. Within the opening the illustrator details the first time she saw her work in 2011 at the Reina Sofia Museum in Milan, through to her compassion for Kusama’s suffering, finding “the transformation of her psychic disorders into a form of self-medication extraordinary, given it reaches such beautiful heights,” she writes.
The illustrator also touches on art lovers' enthusiastic following of Kusama, noting how she is a regular feature in many art magazines, how her work is an overly popular fixture on social media, as well as the artist’s ability to draw from both eastern and western cultures. “This mixture has the capacity to speak a new language, uncovering new forms of expression that enable us to glimpse a world without barriers,” she writes. “For all these reasons, I decided to tell her story.”
The title follows previous graphic novel editions of the lives of Jean-Michel Basquiat by Paolo Parisi, and Jackson Pollock by Onofrio Cattachio. Kusama: A Graphic Biography is now available via Laurence King. This novel follows Elisa’s own title, Papaya Salad from 2018, which has been published in Italian, French and Spanish.
About the Author
Lucy joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In October 2016 she became a staff writer on the editorial team and in January 2019 was made It’s Nice That’s deputy editor. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about new and upcoming creative projects or editorial ideas for the site.