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Takashi Murakami

Takashi Murakami

Takashi Murakami is celebrated for his unique synthesis of refined classical painting techniques with an amplified mix of Pop art and anime. Murakami’s oeuvre encompasses a wide range of media, from painting and sculpture to fashion, branded merchandise, and animated films.

Born February 1, 1962 in Tokyo, Japan, Takashi Murakami received his formal training at Tokyo University of the Arts (formerly Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music), where he received his B.F.A. in 1986 and Ph.D. in 1993. Murakami studied Nihonga (“Japanese-style painting”), which draws on classical Japanese subjects, techniques, and materials. The term Nihonga, coined around 1900 during the Meiji restoration of imperial rule, is used to distinguish traditional Japanese art from the appropriated Western style of painting known in Japan as Yōga.

Murakami’s unmistakably graphic style and Pop-derived motifs, such as his self-consciously “cute” (if sometimes disturbing) anime-esque characters rendered in bright colors, has graced handbags, phone cases, skateboards, and album covers. Murakami’s particular blend of fine art and hyper-commercialism is a totem of his Superflat theory, perhaps most clearly exemplified in his notable collaborations with pop culture superstars.

In 2002, Marc Jacobs, then working with the house of Louis Vuitton, invited Murakami to redesign Vuitton’s Spring/Summer 2003 accessories collection. The artist produced several iconic designs including the must-have white “It” bag that re-envisioned the company’s monogram and became an integral part of the zeitgeist of the early naughts, effectively elevating Takashi Murakami to celebrity status.

During his 20+ year career, Takashi Murakami has distinguished himself variously as a major producer, curator, theorist and entrepreneur of art. He organized the “SUPERFLAT” exhibition in 2000—an exploration of Japanese art which aimed to trace the origins of contemporary Japanese visual popular culture. From 2002 to 2014, Murakami organized a unique art fair called Geisai, which he developed to enable artists to interact directly with potential buyers. Time magazine named Murakami one of the "100 Most Influential People" in 2008, the only visual artist included in that year’s list. In September 2010, Murakami became the first Japanese artist, and only the third contemporary artist, to exhibit at the Palace of Versailles, filling 15 rooms and the surrounding park with his sculptures, paintings, and decorative objects.

In 1996, Takashi Murakami established the Hiropon factory in Tokyo. By 2008, this enterprise had evolved into an art production and management corporation known as Kaikai Kiki Co., which supports the marketing and production of Murakami's art and related work., Moreover, according to their website, KaiKai Kiki seeks “to create new and deeper links between art and the world at large,” functioning as a supportive environment for the fostering of emerging artists, among them KAWS, Virgil Abloh, Mark Grotjahn, Matthew Monahan, Anselm Reyle, Aya Takano, Chiho Aoshima, ob, Mr., Rei Sato and Friedrich Kunath.

Murakami’s work has been featured in many solo and group exhibitions in arts institutions worldwide, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2001, 2017); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2001); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2007); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2017); the Museum of Modern Art, Oslo (2017); the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2017); and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, New York (2017).

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