Takashi Murakami is globally acclaimed as one of the most famous and revered contemporary artists of this century. His style and imaginary cartoon-style world resonates and appeals with our digital and colourful post-modern environment. But as childish and innocent as some of his artwork may appear, there is often an underlying aggressiveness or unsettling violence in his hallucinogenic figures. Through his art Murakami offers us a more subtle reflection on our consumerist society and a clever play of contrasts between modernity and tradition.
Indeed Murakami’s carrier’s boom coincided with the rise of the “Superflat” artistic movement. The term “Superflat” was created in 2001 during one of Murakami’s exhibitions. “Superflat” refers to the flatness found in Japanese pictorial art as, for centuries, Japanese art does not use perspective and is always very two dimensional. But “Superflat” also criticizes the vacuity of consumerist Japanese post-war culture. Leading this “Superflat” artistic trend, and acknowledging what his art and inspiration owes to Japanese masters, Murakami also very clearly states the influence of Andy Warhol on his work. “Warhol’s genius was his discovery of easy painting” he says in Sarah Thornton’s book Seven days in the art world. Numerous series, the use of repetition, the subversive message it conveys, but most importantly how Murakami’s creative process is supported by his very own Factory called Kaikai Kiki Studio employing a Global team of more than 300 people supporting the artist’s boundless productivity. ”I am looking for the crossing point between fine art and entertainment” explained Murakami to the New York Times in 2001.
Murakami is a superstar in the Contemporary art world. His auction market has boomed spectacularly in 2008 with a record sale of $15,2m for his sculpture the Lonesome Cowboy, and has reached an average price of of 111% of the low estimate in 2016, settling Murakami as a cornerstone of the very volatile contemporary art market. In 2010 he entered the exclusive circle of contemporary artists invited to exhibit their works at Versailles along with other great names such as Jeff Koons, Anish Kapoor, or Olafur Eliasson. He is now sought after by both collectors and art institutions who crave for a Murakami blockbuster exhibition. The Fondation Louis Vuitton dedicated a whole floor of its boat-shaped exhibition space in Paris to Murakami’s artworks in its summer’s exhibition: "In Tune with the World" on until August 27th.
Isn’t that the aim of any emerging artist? The question that one would ask regarding Murakami’s art carrier is: What’s next? How to evolve when your work already seems to have reached the highest peak of notoriety and recognition. How to keep on creating, being subversive.
Takashi Murakami is far from resting on his laurels.
The Perrotin 25 anniversary of collaboration’s massive “HEADS⟷HEADS” exhibition at New York City’s Galerie Perrotin is a glimpse into Murakami’s new direction. This exhibition shows Murakami’s latest inspirations and is filled with never-before-seen paintings inspired by the work of late iconic artist, Francis Bacon. Another proof of Murakami’s deep reflection on how his own work fits into art history. One of the most remarkable pieces is a 33-foot-long painting to commemorate Soga Shohaku, one of the most influential Japanese painters of the Edo period. This exhibition was open to the public until June 17,2018.
Takashi Murakami has also been one of the first contemporary artists to enter the fashion sphere through his collaboration with the famous fashion designer Marc Jacobs to reinterpret Louis Vuitton’s classic handbags, a revolution in the world of art and fashion. Murakami has kept on exploring new media with numerous collaborations, most recently with a new step from Haute Couture and Luxury Brands to the world of retail. As such, we can report the launch of a new collaboration between Murakami and the Japanese retail Brand Uniqlo featuring countryman Fujiko F. Fujio’s beloved Doraemon manga. The collection will incorporate 15 items in total including mens’ and kids’ T-shirts and an all-over print plush. The collection is available in Uniqlo stores since May 28th and attracted millennials’ interest by reaching to their childhoods’ sweet memories using their favourite futuristic cat-robot cartoon character Doreamon.
This leap into the mass consumption ocean could be seen as an attempt to reach a new audience, which favours a week-end at the Mall to exhibitions at galleries and museums. The use of the Doraemon character, part of most Asian youngsters’ childhood culture, could be a stepping stone to expend to new territories such as China. Hoping to get Murakami’s designs from people’s wardrobe to people’s wall and creating the next generation of Murakami collectors.