Kusama's delicate drawings both illustrate and interpret Hans Christian Andersen's tale
Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “The Little Mermaid” (1839), a story about a girl from the sea who followed her dreams and suffered a disastrous fate on land, is known all over the world (particularly in its animated incarnation). But the familiar story is brought to new life in this gorgeous edition, a collaboration between the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art and artist Yayoi Kusama.
Paired with Hans Christian Andersen’s original text, the densely patterned, undulating line drawings of Kusama’s Love Forever series (2004–7) conjure up storms in the roiling waves of the ocean, the Little Mermaid’s vast underwater kingdom and her longing to live in the human world. Kusama’s fertile, endlessly repeating forms are an ideal match for the poetic and disturbing universe evoked in the fairy tale; the result is a true collaboration. Kusama’s drawings both illustrate and interpret Andersen’s story, bringing it to terrifying life, and Andersen’s words lend narrative content to Kusama’s landscapes of unblinking eyes, curling tendrils and disembodied profiles.
Yayoi Kusama (born 1929) first left Japan at the age of 28, landing in late 1950s New York. Her oeuvre, now spanning more than 50 years, includes painting, performance, installations and environments, sculpture, film, fashion, design and literary work. She was recently named the world’s most popular artist, based on annual figures reported by The Art Newspaper for global museum attendance in 2014.