Takashi Murakami 村上 隆 is a famous Japanese artist known for his “Super flat” style of artwork and spreading his artwork through both high end art and commercial channels of media.
Using his style, Murakami creates massive sculptures, commercial goods and large paintings.
Born in Tokyo, Japan in 1962, Murakami attended the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, with the aspiration to study traditional Japanese art, and then Nihonga style art. Later he changed his focus to the popular emerging manga style, obsessively followed by the otaku culture, who he felt represented modern day Japan.
Murakami pioneered the style known as Superflat, which involves using flat planes of colour, and character styles from manga. Producing images that mimic ideologies within the otaku culture and creating satire about the culture as well, Superflat became an incredibly influential style, that has helped Murakami become internationally recognised. He has exhibitions showing his work all around the world, with one notable entrance into popular culture recently being when Kanye West chose Murakami’s artwork for the cover of his album Graduation in 2007. Murakami’s work has become entrenched in pop culture and he makes a lot of money just out of his recognition and also his commercial products.
His work seem to create a bridge between the intellectual elite and mass culture, and the paragraph below illustrates how he’s done that.
Excerpt from Wikipedia :
“Like Andy Warhol, Takashi Murakami takes low culture and repackages it, and sells it to the highest bidder in the “high-art” market. Also like Warhol, Murakami makes his repacked low culture available to all other markets in the form of paintings, sculptures, videos, T-shirts, key chains, mouse pads, plush dolls, cell phone caddies, and $5,000 limited-edition Louis Vuitton handbags. This is comparable to Claes Oldenburg, who sold his own low art, high art pieces in his own store front in the 1960s. What makes Murakami different is his methods of production, and his work is not in one store front but many, ranging from toy stores, candy aisles, comic book stores, and the French design house of Louis Vuitton. Murakami’s style is an amalgam of his Western predecessors, Warhol, Oldenberg and Roy Lichtenstein, as well as Japanese predecessors and contemporaries of anime and manga. He has successfully marketed himself to Western culture and to Japan in the form of Kaikai Kiki and GEISAI.”
It seems one of the reoccurring themes in Murakami’s artwork is the mushroom. I guess the Shiitake Mushroom is so loved in Japan as a delicacy that it has transcended its position as a lowly vegetable and reached higher standards in the focus of Japanese media, in both Murakami’s work and others such as the Mushroom Universe that the Mario games reside in.
Personally I think Murakami’s work is too weird for the sake of being weird. There are always meanings behind things, but I don’t really feel much meaning from a lot of his work. Maybe I can’t make that leap of connection to his personal style, but I prefer original characterisation in artwork, and he doesn’t seem to have much of that. I can’t really pinpoint a specific interesting character in his work, except for his obsession with mushroom and flower creatures, which look like an insane looking acid-dream army of characters. Because of his use of flat colours, all his artwork has a distinct look which seems to jump out at you, which I can appreciate. But there are too many strange aspects to his work that make no sense to me. Why is he obsessed with putting third eyes on lots of characters? Why does everything seem to have a manic smile?
My favourite piece of Murakami’s work is on the Akihabara Majokko Princess production, which starred Kirsten Dunst and was directed by McG. Whilst I didn’t like the video at all, the drawing for one of the promotions was one of his most promising and I would like to see more of this kind of work, rather than splatters of colour and repeated images of flowers and mushrooms (I like the detail in his pieces of city landscape work specifically, he’s done a few).
I’ve only seen maybe 40 or so pieces of Murakami’s work, and he has hundreds of pieces, so this is merely my initial viewing opinion. There is no doubt he is a master artist, recognised worldwide, having positively influenced thousands of other people.
Takashi Murakami’s Related Links
Art Production Company Website : http://www.kaikaikiki.co.jp/
Tribute Websites 1 : http://www.takashimurakami.com/
Tribute Websites 2 : http://www.takashimurakami.net/