About The Artist
Japanese artist Takashi Murakami is one of the leading figures working in contemporary art today. As much an entrepreneur as an artist, Murakami’s diverse practice ranges across traditional fine arts media, such as painting and sculpture, as well as more commercial forms including fashion and merchandising. Born in Tokyo in 1962, he studied at Tokyo University of the Arts where he gained a PhD in Nihonga, a traditional style of Japanese painting. Growing disillusioned with the insular nature of this practice, he began to explore more contemporary modes of expression. His cartoon-style work first came to attention in 1994 during a fellowship at MoMA PS1 in New York. There he came into contact with the work of Jeff Koons, a formative influence for the artist.
On his return to Japan, Murakami sought to develop a distinctively Japanese aesthetic and his work began to co-opt the iconography of popular culture forms such as anime and manga. The resulting works are effervescent, vibrantly-colored explosions of comic characters, flowers and cartoon figures. In 2001, he founded the company Kaikai Kiki Co., which employs over a hundred workers at locations in Tokyo and New York, producing factory line renditions of the artist’s brand. Murakami’s work became celebrated for its polished execution and ambitious scale of production.
The artist often incorporates retail style displays in his exhibitions, most notoriously at his retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, at the heart of which lay a full-size Louis Vuitton store selling designer handbags and other branded material. For this exhibition, Murakami coined the term ‘Superflat’, which characterises the flat color and two-dimensional imagery of much Japanese art and culture. This flatness also refers to Murakami’s deliberate elision of high and low culture, which parallels Western pop art’s elevation of commercial imagery and advertising to the level of fine art. Murakami subverts our expectations by repackaging and reproducing the content of his high value paintings and sculptures as readily available merchandise, such as t-shirts and toys. Murakami has also worked across disciplines in his collaborations with numerous fashion designers and pop stars to create clothing, music videos and cover artwork.
Murakami regularly fetches six and seven figure sums at auction. His work is held in major collections worldwide including MOCA, L.A., Museum für Moderne Kunst (MMK), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Frankfurt/Main, Foundation Cartier our l’art contemporaine, Paris and Astrup Fearnley Museet for Moderne Kunst, Oslo.