Yayoi Kusama: From Here To Infinity (Sarah Suzuki)

Hello, friends! Our book for today is Yayoi Kusama: From Here To Infinity, written by Sarah Suzuki and illustrated by Ellen Weinstein, a visually striking picture book biography of the Japanese avant-garde artist.

Yayoi was born in Japan in 1929, into a world of natural beauty and color. As a child, she would paint and draw the world around her – her home city of Matsumoto, the plants in her family’s nursery, the streams and forests of her youth – represented as colorful dots. Not everyone understood her dots: her family tried to train her to become a proper lady, and her art school teachers tried to force her to paint in the traditional Japanese style, but Yayoi’s inspirations could not be contained. She set off on her own to the United States, and painted at every chance she could get, creating more and more paintings and sculptures of her dots. Then one day, she was invited to show her work at a gallery – and people went wild for it. Yayoi travelled the world, creating art, then returned to Japan and continues to create and innovate to this day.

Fascinating! I was somewhat aware of Kusama’s work before reading this, and it was wonderful to learn more about her art and the life that inspired it – though I wish some mention might have been made of her long relationship with mental illness, and how she used art to channel her emotions and struggles. Still, the story is brief yet engaging, and the stylized art (inspired by Kusama’s work, naturally) is bold, vivid, and gorgeous. In fact, JJ especially loved the illustrations, and there were many pages that elicited a “Wow!” or “Oooo!” from both of us. The length is fine, and it was a fun and educational read. A pretty awesome portrait of a intriguing artist, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

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