Japanese contemporary artist, Takashi Murakami (1962), has become one of the most prolific and iconic creators in the art world throughout his colorful career. Working with Kanye West and fashion house Louis Vuitton, Murakami has cemented his place in pop culture. Smiling flowers, vibrant colors and striking motifs are part of an eccentric style that is Murakami’s alone. Born in Tokyo, Murakami studied the art of nihonga, traditional Japanese painting, at the Tokyo University of the Arts. Murakami’s traditional background as well as anime, manga, technology and sci-fi have been major influences for his pieces.
Murakami has surrounded himself with a colorful iconographic world of his own creation. Despite the light-hearted atmosphere of his art, most pieces delve into more serious themes including commercialism, technology, death, political satire and his own views on Japanese culture.
To express his disillusionment of consumer society, the Japanese artist created his first and most celebrated piece, Mr. Dob. The purposefully Mickey Mouse-esque piece has become synonymous with the artist himself and has become an icon for his superflat collection.
Murakami went on to create countless other whimsical pieces including, Tan Tan Bo, Flowers, Mr. Lonesome Cowboy and Hiropon. The latter two anime-inspired pieces were raw commentaries on the hypersexualization Murakami saw evident in Japanese culture and art.
After moving to New York and creating an art studio there in tandem with his Hiropon Factory in Japan, Murakami founded Kaikai Kiki Co. Ltd where he manages a handful of younger artists. As president of Kaikai Kiki, Murakami also hosted a biannual art festival, Geisai, from 2002 to 2014.
Prominent galleries such as the Galerie Perrotin, Marianne Boesky and Gagosian Galleries have featured the Tokyo-native’s exhibitions and art installations such as, Under the Radiation Falls, Gyatei² and the 500 Arhats. Murakami has also exhibited his own personal collection, including artists like Damien Hirst and Soga Shōhaku and allowing fans a glimpse into his extensive curation.
Despite being a critic of consumer society, Murakami’s pieces have become a consumer staple in the form of t-shirts, pillows, bags, etc. His collaboration with Louis Vuitton in 2003 shook the fashion world, melding high fashion and fine art. The artist has since worked closely with current head of Louis Vuitton, Virgil Abloh, since 2018 creating a variety of pieces, apparel and even incorporating the iconic Louis Vuitton logo into his work.