Behind the HYPE: Takashi Murakami
The Contemporary Art revolution from Japan
Takashi Murakami is a Japanese contemporary artist that breaks the boundaries between fine arts and “low” arts. Discover the man that has helped expand the japanese contemporary art around the globe with his funny characters.
Takashi Murakami was born and raised in Tokyo. Since he was a child he was a big enthusiast of anime and manga and always wished to work in the animation industry. Though he attended Tokyo University of the Arts to become an animator, he majored in traditional style of Japanese painting. Later, when he became disappointed with the very political world, he started to explore more contemporary artistic styles and media.
In 1994, Murakami participated in the PS1 International Studio Program in New York City for a year, being inspired by Western contemporary artists such as Anselm Kiefer of Jeff Koons. There he established a small studio along with the Hiropon Factory in Japan. After returning to his homeland, he developed the foundations of what would be his style, starting to exhibit frequently at galleries and institutions in Europe and America.
In April 2013, the artist released his first film “Jellyfish Eyes”, a live-action movie with his own designed characters that presumably will have a continuation as a series of short clips.
Murakami is the founder (back in 2001) and President of Kaikai Kiki Co. through which he manages several younger artists in his galleries and production studios.
Nowadays, Murakami struggles with the situation of a world under pandemic and tries to don’t stop creating and developing new projects as the Roppongi Hills Takashi Murakami Project with a gallery, a flower themed cafe and a big golden sculpture that we predict that will be a future figure release.
His style can be represented in all kinds of media such as painting and sculpture as well as fashion, merchandise and animation.
Murakami's art makes a wide use of colour and features Japanese traditional and popular culture themes (very useful on his Doraemon collaborations). His works express a cute, psychedelic and satirical content through flowers, skulls or elements from the manga and anime culture.
Murakami is the originator of the term “superflat” back in 2000 where he published his “Superflat” theory in the catalogue for a group exhibition in Los Angeles. He likes to define it as the aesthetic characteristics of the Japanese artistic tradition mixed with the nature of postwar Japanese culture and society.
The meaning of “flat” is represented both by the 2D japanese art history in manga and anime that uses flat planes of colour and the “flattened” taste between social classes that after the war don’t differentiate between “high” and “low”.
Playing with this concept, Murakami likes to represent high-art works as merchandise or plush toys making them more affordable.
Murakami’s paintings and sculptures are being exhibited widely around the world
His first retrospective has traveled from Los Angeles, to New York, Frankfurt and the Guggenheim in Bilbao.
In September 2010, he became the first Japanese and one of the first contemporary artists to exhibit at the Palace of Versailles giving again a new exemple for the “Superflat” definition. The rooms and the park of the french palace were full of “anime-sque” characters and flowers.
Other big cities such as Doha, Paris, Chicago, London, etc have been hosting the works of Murakami.
Murakami & Fashion
One of Murakami’s most successful collaborations with fashion designers was in 2002. The artist was invited by Marc Jacobs to contribute for Louis Vuitton with his artworks in the design of a series of handbags in what turned into a long-lasting partnership.
Takashi Murakami has collaborated with fashion designer Virgil Abloh on a series of artworks, creating something more than clothes by mixing the world of art and fashion together.
Last year (2020), Supreme released one of his popular t-shirts featuring artwork from Murakami on the logo. All benefits were for charity.
Murakami & Music
The famous rapper has two cover artworks and a music video for his song “Good Morning” by Murakami.
The art toys enthusiast Pharrell Williams conceived a collaborative sculpture with the artist. Murakami created a music video for the remix of the Hatsune Miku song Last Night, Good Night, an awesome representation with dancing characters.
The official Billie Eilish music video of You Should See Me In a Crown directed and animated by Takashi took eight months to be created. There you can find Murakami’s flowers and an animated version of Billie that transitions from a kawaii girl to a spider monster.
The album Colores from the colombian singer has the special cover design and merchandise artwork by Takashi Murakami in a colourful celebration.
Some of Murakami’s best art toys
Small Flowers, Big Flowers… all full with colour, soft and always smiling. From your couch to your clothes, you can always have a Murakami flower with you.
Mr. Dob is one of the most classic Murakami’s characters. A rounded face mouse with big ears. He has some interesting art toy versions as vinyl head (the most recent release) or DOB-kun produced with Instinct Toy.
Kaikai & Kiki
This sofubi couple inspired by the name of Murakami’s brand is a complete must for fans and collectors. They have been released on blue eyes edition and green eyes edition.
Takashi Murakami is the man behind the term Superflat. The one who worked hard to elevate contemporary art in Japan and although his early pieces were not initially well received in his homeland, now they’re referent inside and outside his country.
You can get your Murakami flower plushes from Kaneda Toys right now and start to bring the colorful joy of Takashi into your home!