A leading figure of the Japanese Neo-Pop movement, Yoshitomo Nara's oft-sinister characters are internationally recognized for their childlike appearance and very adult attitudes.
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Interesting Facts of Note
An avid lover of music, Nara describes his favorite musician Neil Young, “He has a spirit of equality and freedom, bravely singing his songs that make us think what's around us.”
He created the album art for Japanese punk band The Star Club and girl band Shonen Knife. While creating new work, he listens to punk music at a deafening level.
In 2015 his work, The Little Star Dweller, brought a staggering $3 million dollars at Christie’s.
Anything with human form will resemble someone you know.
Yoshitomo Nara b. 1959
One of the most popular contemporary artists in Japan, Yoshitomo Nara is best known for his sinister imagery of children and animals. His flat, two-dimensional characters display a range of negative emotions evoking anger, sadness, even revenge while remaining vulnerable to the viewer. Provocative in nature, the children typically wield objects such as knives and cigarettes, seemingly posing contrast to the rigidness of Japanese social constructs.
Nara was born and raised in a rural village of northern Japan. Nature, music, and the solitude of his childhood had a profound impact on how he sees the world and the viewpoint he brings to his work. After graduating with his MFA from the Aichi Prefectural University of the Arts, Japan he studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf during the late 1980s. He remained in Germany after graduation in 1993 and opened a studio in Cologne. Nara has been exhibiting his paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography, and collections of merchandise featuring his characters internationally since 2000. Nara has published multiple books throughout his career including The Lonesome Puppy (2008), a children’s book, and the Yoshitomo Nara Photo Book 2003-2012 (2012), a collection of ephemera from his life and travels.
His work is held in the esteemed collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Museum of Art in Osaka, the Museum of Modern Art New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and Centro de Arte Contemporaneo de Malaga, Spain among many others. He currently lives and works in Tokyo.
I work very hard to make sure that my art does not produce a superficial image, that there is much more depth to it, so that’s something I would like people to see.