Takashi Murakami

Takashi Murakami, (born Feb. 1, 1962, Tokyo, Japan) Japanese artist and entrepreneur widely recognized for his ability to adapt the aesthetics of Japanese traditional art to operate within the context of popular culture.

Murakami studied Japanese painting at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1986 and a Ph.D. in 1993. After completing his studies, he increasingly displayed his works in solo and group exhibitions, making his European debut in 1995 in “TransCulture,” held at the 46th Venice Biennale. The following year Murakami’s paintings and sculptures were featured most notably at the second Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art at the Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane.

Trained in traditional Japanese art, Murakami saw similarities between the flat composition of Japanese painting and the simplified aesthetics of anime (Japanese animation) and manga (Japanese comics). His style, which emphasized two-dimensional forms and bold, striking imagery, gave birth to an artistic movement known as Superflat, which not only acknowledged but glorified the interaction between the commercial and art worlds. After curating an exhibition in 2002 at the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art in Paris, Murakami collaborated in 2003 with Marc Jacobs, artistic director of the Louis Vuitton fashion house, to produce fashion accessories. He earned celebrity status in May 2003 when his Miss Ko2 (pronounced “ko ko”)—a life-size fibreglass sculpture of a large-breasted blonde waitress in a petite uniform—was auctioned in New York City for $567,500; the price set a record for a work by a contemporary Japanese artist.

By 2005 Murakami had been dubbed the Japanese Andy Warhol and had reached a new level of success in his career as artist, curator, product designer, theorist, and entrepreneur. At the Japan Society Gallery in New York City, he curated the exhibition “Little Boy: The Arts of Japan’s Exploding Subculture.” Featuring the work of young Japanese artists, the show examined the otaku (“geek”) movement propelling anime and manga—two industries at the heart of Japanese popular culture. Also in 2005 Murakami displayed his monumental sculpture Tongari-Kun—Mr. Pointy & the Four Guards in Tokyo’s fashionable Roppongi Hills development. This colourful, meticulously crafted work, modeled on a Buddha statue, was the fourth edition of a piece that had charmed many viewers outside Rockefeller Center, New York City, in 2003.

Murakami’s works have been exhibited in many solo and group exhibitions. Recent major museum exhibitions include “Summon monsters? Open the door? Heal? Or die?,” Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2001); “Takashi Murakami: Made in Japan,” Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2001); “Kaikai Kiki: Takashi Murakami,” Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, Paris (2002; traveled to Serpentine Gallery, London); “© MURAKAMI,” Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2007; traveled to Brooklyn Museum, New York; Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt; and Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao through 2009); “Takashi Murakami Versailles,” Château de Versailles, France (2010); “Murakami: Ego,” Qatar Museums Authority, Qatar (2012); “Arhat Cycle,” Palazzo Reale, Milan (2014); and “Murakami: The 500 Arhats,” Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2015). His most recent institutional exhibition “Murakami-Ego,” whose centerpiece was an astonishing 100 meter painting inspired by the Tōhoku earthquake, took place in 2012 at the Al Riwaq Hall in Doha, Qatar.

Murakami currently lives and works in Tokyo and New York City.

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Steven Graven

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