Takashi Murakami is known as the modern day Andy Warhol. Murakami has created his own genre in the postmodern art world, coining the term “superflat” in 2002 (spurring off of the category of neo-pop in the 1980s). The superflat category of art derives from the influences of Manga and Anime: both in the realm of Japanese comics. Superflat revolves around the consumerist and sexual fetishes evident in the Japanese culture, including Otaku and Lolicon.
Like Warhol, Murakami was inspired by low culture and turned it into a high brow item. Warhol used consumerist products, such as the Brillo Pad or Campbell’s Soup, as a work of art at absurd prices. Murakami uses the same inspiration as the pop culture apparent in Japan.
Murakami has a background in the art world, receiving his BFA, MFA and PhD from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. Like Warhol, he founded a “factory” called the Hiropan in 1996, which then turned into the Kaikai Kiki Company for the production of art. Perhaps Murakami became extremely famous on a global level during his collaboration with Louis Vuitton adding his own twist to limited edition bags in 2002.
However, the first of Murakami’s images, created in 1993, is “Mr. DOB”: a gigantic circle with two ears (the letter D on the left ear, B on the right with a big “O” in the middle). Mr. DOB represents the phrase “Dobojite dobojite” meaning “Why? Why?” Mr. DOB is a characterized version of Murakami and is perhaps the most iconic image from the artist. His Mr. Dob mouspads sold for $40 and are now only available on eBay.
Murakami – Ego Exhibition
Murakami’s most recent major exhibition was the Murakami – Ego exhibit in Doha, Qatar, at the Al Riwag Exhibition Hall. It ran from February 9, 2012, to June 24, 2012. His exhibit revisited many of his famous themes, like otaku culture and worldwide consumerism. Take a look at some images of his exhibit, courtesy of Design Boom and photographers Chika Okazumi and Gion:
What Warhol did for American art, Takashi Murakami is doing for Japan. He states in Index Magazine in 1998:
I believe that someone who invents a new category and establishes a system for it is always needed—in every age. – Takashi Murakami
Featured image courtesy of Qatar Museums Authority.