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Takashi Murakami Prints

Takashi Murakami is one of the most recognisable, controversial and important artists of our generation. Over his incredible thirty year career, he has been exhibited in the world’s most prestigious galleries, collaborated with the biggest names in music and fashion, and inspired a modern art movement with his distinctive ‘superflat’ style. He is not only a talented artist but also a cultural entrepreneur.

Born in 1962 in Tokyo, Japan, Takashi Murakami studied at the Tokyo University of the Arts, majoring in a European and traditional Japanese painting technique known as ‘nihonga’. Conversely, he was drawn to the ‘otaku’ world of ‘manga’ (comic books) and ‘anime’ (animated cartoons), as well as the concept of ‘kawaii’ (all things ‘cute’). Throughout his youth, he was immersed in such a world, adapting it for stylistic inspiration and subverting it’s meaning for artist impact.

Murakami's best-known character, a mouse-shaped creature called Mr. DOB, consequently emerged in his early work. This work was criticised in Japan at the time for apparently lacking artistic substance. Some even labelled it caricature and a distortion of modern Japan.

1994 saw Takashi Murakami move to New York where he gained inspiration from Western contemporary artists such as Andy Warhol, Anselm Kiefer and Jeff Koons. Over the coming years his work gained international recognition which lead to his meteoric rise in the contemporary art world. He used ‘nihonga’ to trounce the traditional western idea of ‘high’ versus ‘low’ art, and so coined the monumental term ‘superflat’ - initially used to describe his unique artistic style.

Takashi Murakami’s two-dimensional, graphic design-like style is both a celebration and a parody of the adolescent-leaning ‘otaku’ genre. At the time, this provoked concern and dispute not only over ‘superflat’ art featuring the inappropriately sexed characters but also sexual identity within Japanese culture itself. The world of ‘otaku’ remains enormously profitable from a commercial perspective, as fans immerse themselves in related gaming, music, fashion, collectables, edibles and more.

Controversy seemed to do nothing but add to Takashi Murakami’s notoriety, steering him into cult status and spilling him into youth culture. This inspired an entire generation of contemporary Japanese artists such as Yoshitomo Nara who continues to be a prominent figure alongside the Godfather of Japanese Art. Time Magazine listed Murakami as one of the 100 most influential people in the world (the only visual artist included on the list).

In 2002, he was approached by Marc Jacobs to design a line of handbags for Louis Vuitton. This blurring of the line between ‘high art’ and commercialism went on to become the most successful fashion-art collaboration in history.

It spawned further lucrative partnerships including brands Issey Miyake Men and Vans. In music, Murakami designed the cover artwork for the Grammy award winning hip-hop album ‘Graduation’ by Kanye West, and directed an animated music video for the accompanying track ‘Good Morning’. He also worked with superstar Pharrell Williams on a sculpture at the international arts fair, Art Basel, before continuing their relationship on the music video for ‘Last Night, Good Night (Re: Dialed)’ - Pharrell’s collaboration with Hatsune Miku. Takashi Murakami illustrations also feature on Billionaire Boys Club apparel, Pharrell’s fashion brand. In film, Murakami produced hit animated feature, ‘Jellyfish Eyes’ in 2013, with a sequel currently in the works. Appearances at LA’s Complexcon have further cemented his celebrity influence on present day pop culture.

The value of Takashi Murakami’s artwork hit new heights in 2008 when his life-sized fibreglass sculpture ‘My Lonesome Cowboy’ – a wacky anime-inspired figure of a boy whose semen stream forms a gigantic lasso around his head - sold for an astonishing $15.2 million at Sotheby's in New York. A consistent stream of fantastic auction results over the years have seen Takashi Murakami’s prints and sculptures continue to attract collectors and investors from all around the world.

Murakami’s own art production and management corporation Kaikai Kiki Co. was created to meet demand on a mass market level. With headquarters in Japan and New York, it produces and distributes merchandise themed around his characters and designs; from art books, cushions and fashion to cell-phone cases, dolls and kitchenware.

The other arm of Kaikai Kiki Co. manages the careers of his protégés, acting like that of a record label under Murakami’s guidance. Artists who have seen their careers soar after signing with Kaikai Kiki Co. include Chiho Aoshima, whose surreal, heavenly slash horrific, dreamscapes have been exhibited in famed halls from the MOCA Lyon in France to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. Graffiti artist Madsaki was discovered by Takashi Murakami through Instagram, and after joining Kaikai Kiki Co. has quickly became one of the most sought-after artists in the street art world. Murakami collaborated with Madsaki on several projects, bringing a new layer of adventure to his work and widening his appeal furthermore.

Takashi Murakami’s artwork adorns the walls of some of the finest galleries in the world. New York’s MOMA carries a permanent display featuring his most iconic artwork, ‘727’, a 1996 painting starring a whimsical, sharp-toothed version of his beloved character Mr DOB.

Murakami became only the third contemporary artist to have a solo exhibition at the Château de Versailles in France, filling up no less than 15 grand rooms.

Recently, The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago held his painting-focused exhibit, ‘The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg’, which broke attendance records for the museum and catapulted Murakami into global gallery elite. Oslo’s Astrup Fearnley Museet held his first solo show in Scandinavia, ‘Murakami by Murakami’. The first major Murakami show in Russia opened in 2017 entitled ‘Under the Radiation Falls’ at the historic Garage Museum of Contemporary Art venue in Moscow. The presentation spotlighted Takashi Murakami’s prints, original paintings, sculptures, and installations from the mid-1990s.

Decades on, Takashi Murakami’s work continues to dominate the world’s most esteemed stages, remaining not only current but creating a profound legacy for years to come. With a huge international audience and dedicated fan base of collectors, a limited edition, signed Takashi Murakami print has today become not only a visual spectacle but also a fantastic investment.

View our a wonderful collection of Takashi Murakami Artworks

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