In an imaginative retelling of The Little Mermaid, the Japanese artist and writer Yayoi Kusama translates Hans Christian Anderson’s original 1839 fairy tale into a series of whimsical, abstract pen-and-ink illustrations. Best known for her avant-garde work in New York in the 1960s, Kusama uses her most iconic motifs here (eyes, a woman’s profile, polka dots) to recreate the story. The series of drawings originally appeared in her “Love Forever” series (2004-2007).
The book The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen & Yayoi Kusama: A Fairy Tale of Infinity and Love Forever, out July 26 from the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, pairs the artist’s illustrations with the traditional Little Mermaid story, spotlighting her signature fascination with serial repetition and abstract, expansive patterns. Here, the drawings strike a darker tone than much of her popular artworks would suggest. (Consider her Instagram-friendly exhibit at David Zwirner Gallery last summer, for instance, or pulsating LED lights that filled the same gallery back in 2013.)
Click ahead to see the artist’s re-imagined story in densely layered silhouettes, undulating sketches, and — as one can expect from Kusama — many, many polka dots.