With a PhD in Nihonga painting from the Tokyo University of the Arts, Takashi Murakami has developed a signature style where the most modern techniques combine with the skill and precision of traditional Japanese art, particularly ukiyo-e (floating world) prints. Inspired by manga and kawaii (cute) culture, his irresistible world is inhabited by monstrous or charming characters, the mischievous descendents of past myths.
In 2001, Murakami established the Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. based in Tokyo and New York, and now also in Los Angeles, a veritable breeding ground for artists that produces exhibitions, animated films, events such as the GEISAI contemporary art fair, as well as catalogues and merchandise goods.
The ‘Superflat’ aesthetic that Murakami theorized in 2000 attempts to blur the line between high and low art through all mediums including painting, sculpture, wallpaper, animation, fashion, and merchandise.
Since his first monographic exhibition outside Japan in 1995 at Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Murakami has become recognized as one of the most prominent contemporary artists of his time, and his work has been featured in numerous solo exhibitions at museums and art institutions throughout the world, including The Meaning of the Nonsense of the Meaning in New York at the Center for Curatorial Studies Museum, Bard College in 1999, P.S.1 in Long Island City, NY (2000), Grand Central Station in 2001, the Fondation Cartier and the Serpentine Gallery in 2002, the Rockefeller Center in 2003, and recently in the traveling retrospective ©MURAKAMI, shown first at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles in 2007, then followed by shows at the Brooklyn Museum in New York, the Museum für Moderne Kunst (MMK) in Frankfurt, and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.
As a curator, Murakami challenges accepted notions of history and culture. With his three-part Superflat exhibition, which toured in major museums in America and Europe, he attempted to introduce Japanese artists, animators, cartoonists, etc., to an international audience, under the premise that such categories of creativity are not as rigid in the Japanese system and might all be thought of as “art.” In 2005, the exhibition’s final installation, Little Boy, suggested a new interpretation of history through a political exposition of the A-bomb and postwar Japanese popular culture.
He became known to the general public when fashion designer Marc Jacobs first asked him to reinterpret the Louis Vuitton monogram for their Spring/Summer 2003 line. And thus the collaboration began, as well as through his two animated films, SUPERFLAT MONOGRAM (2003) and SUPERFLAT First Love (2009), where Murakami’s characters are immersed in a psychedelic, multicoloured, Vuitton universe.
In 2008, Time magazine named him as one of the 100 most influential personalities in the world.
Takashi Murakami was born in 1962 in Tokyo, Japan. He lives and works in Tokyo, New York, and Los Angeles.
Picture : Portrait of Takashi Murakami. All artworks © Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All right reserved. Photo: Kenji Yagi