Takashi Murakami is probably the best known Japanese artist in the world.
Born in Tokyo in 1962, Murakami is today the most influential Japanese artist internationally. To this, certainly contributes the fact that he is a multifaceted artist who goes from painting to sculpture to graphic art and commercial collaborations with ease.
Between Pop Art and Superflat
When the Japanese artist coined the term Superflat in 2001, he launched one of the most vigorous movements in postmodern art. In particular, it is a movement that is influenced by manga and anime.
Often classified as a Japanese form of Pop Art, Superflat has become an international phenomenon, infiltrating all areas of culture, from pure art to commercial art.
Superflat artists are not few, and some of them are part of the Kaikai Kiki association. A group exhibition “Superflat”, held at the MoCA Gallery, California in 2001, included Japanese artists, designers, and cartoonists known as Superflat artists, including, Yoshitomo Nara, Chiho Aoshima, Aya Takano, Yoshinori Kanada, well known even in the west.
Another fantastic exhibition called Kawaii! El Japó ara, held at the Espaci 13 of the Fundació Joan Miró between 2007 and 2008, focused more on the concept of kawaii, but was inevitably Superflat and includes works by Chiho Aoshima, Aya Takano, Erina Matsui, Tomoko Sawada i Kowei Nawa .
The Kaikai Kiki Co. on contemporary Japan
Kaikai Kiki is an artistic production company. Murakami founded it with the primary objective of promoting and producing works of art, and of supporting selected young artists.
The company represents several prominent international artists including Aya Takano, Chiho Aoshima, Mr., Kazumi Nakamura, Emi Kuraya and Yūji Ueda. The company was born in Saitama, Asaka City and now has offices in Tokyo and New York.
Takashi Murakami is very critical of Japan and its culture. In particular, the artist believes that to date there is no real awareness of one’s cultural identity.
Thus, in 1993 the artist created his own alter ego: Mr. Dob, a cute little mouse with rounded features, which is different among the various versions in the multiple works. Above all, for Murakami, this representation is the symbol of that infantilized Japanese culture, which in his opinion characterizes Japan.
Projects between fashion and art
Perhaps the artist’s most prestigious collaboration remains the exhibition in the Palace of Versailles held in 2010. Twenty-two works, half of which were new to public, have decorated and contrasted nicely with the style of the seventeenth-century palace.
“Murakami Versailles presents itself as a cheerful extension of Louis XIV’s remarkable patronage of the arts. There is something almost hereditary about the appearance of these sculptures in this place. They are triumphs of the populist baroque framed by the royal baroque. You can come and look at Murakami’s work, but his sculptures force you to turn your attention to Versailles. “
The antithesis between Superflat contemporary art by Murakami and the Baroque style of the royal residence of the Bourbons of France is incredibly impressive. On the one hand, the ostentation of western luxury that characterized the dynasty of the rulers of the French monarchy until the deposition of Louis XVI. On the other, a show made of bright colors, kawaii shapes and consumerist concepts expressed by Japanese Superflat art.
Takashi Murakami has collaborated with many artistic, fashion and commercial realities. The most famous is undoubtedly the one with Louis Vuitton: in 2003 Marc Jacobs was creative director of the Vuitton fashion house, and Murakami applied his creativity on the monogram bags of the French brand. The success of the Cherry Blossom bag and collaboration, in general, has been unquestionable.