**This was a presentation I created for beginning painting students to provide a more contemporary insight in modern painting history.***
Takashi Murakami is an internationally prolific contemporary Japanese artist that has introduced his theory of “Superflat” of Japan to the rest of the world. He blurred the line between the high and the low, much like Andy Warhol did. He works in fine arts media such as painting, fashion, animation, merchandise, and sculpture. Just like how Warhol believed everyone will experience their 15 minutes of fame, Murakami felt everyone should have available access to fine art.
Takashi Murakami was born in 1962, growing up in the aftermath of American occupation and the revolution of post-modern Japan. After the war, his mother designed textiles while his father labored over work on an aircraft carrier in Shimonoseki Bay. His father gave up college (which in Japanese culture individuals in such position felt shamed) due to the family’s financial situation and joined the Self-Defense forces (formed after the war). Murakami was exposed to a traditional Japanese upbringing, but was also aware of Western culture. In his childhood, Murakami participated in Buddhist rituals to taking calligraphy courses to visiting major art exhibitions of masters. His parents often asked him to write essays based on subject’s such as Goya’s representation of children. If it wasn’t done, the supper later that night will be taken away from him. It was this upbringing that made Murakami quick on his feet in writing and thinking, especially in the realm of the fine art business.
Murakami developed an early appreciation in Japanese animation (anime and manga). He went on to the prestigious Tokyo University of the Arts and attained his PhD in Nihonga (traditional Japanese painting). His passion initially was to become an animator, a common dream of the youth in Japan. He wanted to design background art for animations, hoping to facilitate such learning within the Nihonga department. Back then he didn’t feel that he had the technical skills in drawing would be sufficient, but hoped to get into the industry with such a prestigious degree. After the fourth year, he gave up on the idea only to dedicate his schedule towards painting. One painting may take up to four months to complete! By his seventh year he wanted to become an artist. His background in animation and the technicalities of Nihonga painting will ultimately lead Murakami into his groundbreaking essay on the theory of “Superflat.”
Birth of Superflat:
In 2008, Lonesome Cowboy sold for $15 million at Sotheby’s. Talk about the sculptures.
Andy Warhol took cultural icons and created works of art using inexpensive industry mediums. Jeff Koons then stepped in and took banal, everyday objects and enlarged them. Murakami, following suit of the evolution of pop art, borrowed from the otaku culture and enlarged them.
- ‘Most extensive’ Warhol exhibit in Virginia Beach (hamptonroads.com)
- Art after Fukushima: Godzilla’s grandchildren (economist.com)
- “The 120th Anniversary of the Birth of Fukuda Heihachiro: The Modern Nihonga, a Novel Sense of Design” (japantimes.co.jp)
- Murakami’s Ego – Qatar (aureta.typepad.com)
- 5 Famous Artists Who Influenced Fashion Designers (collegefashion.net)
- Marc Jacobs Art x Fashion: Past, Future, and Present (fashionarian.com)
- “Uemura Shoen: Japanese Arts in Taisho Era – Struggle Between Tradition and Revolution” (japantimes.co.jp)
- Louis Vuitton’s latest dotty artist collaboration (fashion.telegraph.co.uk)
- “I remember the Factory” (doinatatu.wordpress.com)