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Yayoi Kusama Covered Everything in Dots and Wasn’t Sorry

Contagious enthusiasm for a dazzling non-conformist

When Yayoi Kusama was a young girl, she had a close encounter with a pumpkin. In later years, she would describe how it (literally) spoke to her in an animated manner, its radiant energy filling her with love. If you think that’s startling,  just wait until you hear how she feels about polka dots! This unusually sensitive girl would grow up to be one of the most famous artists in the world, and in Yayoi Kusama Covered Everything in Dots and Wasn’t Sorry by Fausto Gilberti, we learn about her amazing life.

Yayoi Kusama’s life story proves to be as eye-poppingly colourful and engaging as her art. As a child in Japan, she kept her sketchbook close, capturing objects and moments that she believed no one else could see. Yearning to fulfil her dreams of becoming a famous artist, Yayoi eventually escaped to New York to lead the classic impoverished artist-in-a-garret existence. Her breakthrough when it came, propelled her to dizzying levels of success and celebrity, matched only by the spiralling obsessions of her kaleidoscopic mind.

Gilberti simplifies Yayoi’s complex personal life in an age-appropriate way, while joyfully emphasising her hallucinatory artistic vision. Young readers will be agog at her luminous pumpkin sculptures , ‘Infinity’ rooms of endlessly reflective lights and mirrors, the huge dress designed to be worn by twenty-five people at once, and of course, her beloved dots. She painted hundreds of thousands of them, claiming they made her feel ‘….like I was a single dot that was part of our infinite universe.’

Over time Yayoi became increasingly mentally unwell. Craving the purity and beauty of Japan, she returned to her birthplace, where she lives and works to this day.

The book’s accompanying illustrations are boldly black and white, save for the red flash of Yayoi’s famous bob. Along with the considered text, they convey a contagious enthusiasm and empathy for this dazzlingly non-conformist artist, who truly dared to be different.

Yayoi Kusama Covered Everything in Dots and Wasn’t Sorry by Fausto Gilberti is published by Phaidon Press, 48 pages.

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