We want to see the newest things. That is because we want to see the future, even if only momentarily. It is the moment in which, even if we don’t completely understand what we have glimpsed, we are nonetheless touched by it. This is what we have come to call art.
Drawing from traditional Japanese painting, sci-fi, anime, and the global art market, Takashi Murakami creates paintings, sculptures, and films populated by repeated motifs and mutating characters of his own creation. His wide-ranging work embodies an intersection of pop culture, history, and fine art.
Murakami earned a BA, MFA, and PhD from Tokyo University of the Arts, where he studied nihonga (traditional Japanese painting). In 1996 he established the Hiropon Factory, a studio/workshop that in subsequent years grew into an art production and artist management company, now known as Kaikai Kiki Co. Ltd.
Since the early 1990s Murakami has invented characters that combine aspects of popular cartoons from Japan, Europe, and the US—from his first Mr. DOB, who sometimes serves as a stand-in for the artist himself, to various anime characters and smiling flowers, bears, and lions. These figures act as icons and symbols—hosts for more complex themes of violence, technology, and fantasy.
In 2000 Murakami curated Superflat, an exhibition featuring works by artists whose techniques and mediums synthesize various aspects of Japanese visual culture, from ukiyo-e (woodblock prints of the Edo period) to anime and kawaii (a particular cuteness in cartoons, handwriting, products, and more). With this exhibition, Murakami advanced his Superflat theory of art, which highlights the “flatness” of Japanese visual culture from traditional painting to contemporary subcultures in the context of World War II and its aftermath.
Murakami’s work extends to mass-produced items such as toys, key chains, and t-shirts. In 2002 he began a multiyear collaboration with Marc Jacobs on the redesign of the Louis Vuitton monogram. Murakami then took the radical step of directly incorporating the Vuitton monograms and patterns into his paintings and sculptures. While Murakami’s imagery may appear to present unprecedented characters and forms, many contain explicit art historical references, and some are even direct contemporary updates on traditional Japanese works.
In 2009 Murakami and the esteemed art historian Nobuo Tsuji began a creative dialogue centered on a group of Japanese artists known as the Edo eccentrics. This collaboration led to an exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 2017, for which Murakami and Tsuji selected Japanese works from the museum’s collection and showed them alongside works by Murakami. The latter included Dragon in Clouds—Red Mutation: The version I painted myself in annoyance after Professor Nobuo Tsuji told me, “Why don’t you paint something yourself for once?” (2010), a red monochrome version of the famous eighteenth-century painting Dragon and Clouds by Soga Shōhaku.
Following the Tōhoku earthquake of 2011 and the subsequent nuclear crisis at Fukushima, Murakami began deeply exploring the impact of historical natural disasters on Japanese art and culture. In his 2014 Gagosian exhibition at West 24th Street in New York, In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow, he created an immersive installation of eclectic arhats; deliquescing clones of his fictional creature Mr. DOB; and karajishi, the mythic lions that guard Japanese Buddhist temples, that visitors entered through a replica of a sanmon (sacred gate).
Not only does Murakami merge different time periods, styles, and subject matter in his work, but his approach to art crosses the boundaries between gallery, studio, art fair, and media as well. Along with creating paintings and sculptures, he has hosted art fairs for emerging artists, curated exhibitions, and made films featuring his many characters and motifs. Combining fantasy, science, and history, he shows that none of these categories can be considered in isolation.
February 21–April 13, 2019
Murakami & Abloh
October 10–25, 2018
Change the Rule!
September 20–November 10, 2018
Murakami & Abloh
June 23–July 28, 2018
Murakami & Abloh
February 21–April 7, 2018
Davies Street, London
In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow
November 10, 2014–January 17, 2015
555 West 24th Street, New York
Flowers & Skulls
November 29, 2012–February 9, 2013
June 27–August 5, 2011
Britannia Street, London
Takashi Murakami at LACMA
In a conversation recorded at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Takashi Murakami describes the process behind three major large-scale paintings, including Qinghua (2019), inspired by the motifs painted on a Chinese Yuan Dynasty porcelain vase.
Join us for an exclusive look at the installation and opening reception of Murakami & Abloh: “AMERICA TOO”.
Future History: Takashi Murakami and Virgil Abloh
Following their artistic collaboration in London, Takashi Murakami and Virgil Abloh, the recently appointed Louis Vuitton menswear designer, spoke with Derek Blasberg about how they met, their admiration for one another, and the power of collaboration to educate and impassion new audiences.
Nobuo Tsuji vs. Takashi Murakami
From 2009–11 the eminent art historian Nobuo Tsuji and Takashi Murakami engaged in a reimagined e-awase (painting contest). In this twenty-one-round contest, newly published in Battle Royale! Japanese Art History, Tsuji selects historical works and Murakami responds creatively. Round 6 centers on the Edo Eccentric painter Soga Shōhaku and his monumental Dragon and Clouds (1763).
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2018
The Spring 2018 Gagosian Quarterly with a cover by Ed Ruscha is now available for order.
Taipei Dangdai 2020
January 17–19, 2020, booth E20
Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Taipei Dangdai 2020, presenting works by Georg Baselitz, John Currin, Edmund de Waal, Urs Fischer, Katharina Grosse, Damien Hirst, Robert Indiana, John Mason, Takashi Murakami, Takashi Murakami & Virgil Abloh, Albert Oehlen, Nam June Paik, Steven Parrino, Richard Prince, Ed Ruscha, Spencer Sweeney, Tom Wesselmann, and Jonas Wood, among others.
John Currin, Young Woman on a Lounger, 2014 © John Currin
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
2019 Benefit Art Auction
Live auction: Saturday, November 16, 2019, 8:30pm
Silent auction: November 1–16, 2019
Preview: November 12–16, 2019
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago presents its annual Benefit Art Auction on Saturday, November 16, with a cocktail reception and viewing of the available works, followed by a seated dinner and live auction. Works by leading artists, including Virgil Abloh, Theaster Gates, Takashi Murakami, Richard Prince, Sarah Sze, and Christopher Wool, have been donated. All proceeds support MCA programs and exhibitions. For information on works in the live or silent auctions, visit artsy.net. To attend the event, purchase tickets at mcachicago.org.
Richard Prince, Untitled, 2018 © Richard Prince
Art Basel Miami Beach 2019
December 5–8, 2019, booth D7
Miami Beach Convention Center
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel Miami Beach 2019 with modern and contemporary artworks by Richard Avedon, Georg Baselitz, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Joe Bradley, Cecily Brown, John Chamberlain, John Currin, Edmund de Waal, Rachel Feinstein, Urs Fischer, Helen Frankenthaler, Ellen Gallagher, Theaster Gates, Katharina Grosse, Mark Grotjahn, Jennifer Guidi, Simon Hantaï, Damien Hirst, Alex Israel and Bret Easton Ellis, Ellsworth Kelly, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Man Ray, Peter Marino, Adam McEwen, Joan Mitchell, Takashi Murakami, Albert Oehlen, Steven Parrino, Pablo Picasso, Rudolf Polanszky, Richard Prince, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra, Rudolf Stingel, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Mary Weatherford, Tom Wesselmann, Jonas Wood, Christopher Wool, and Zao Wou-Ki, among others.
Tom Wesselmann, Sunset Nude with Wesselmann Still Life, 2004 © The Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by ARS/VAGA, New York
Takashi Murakami in
Through March 8, 2020
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australia
This exhibition features large-scale installations and classic Japanese cinema and animation alongside miniature carvings, humorous paintings, and the vibrant ukiyo-e woodblock prints that define the tradition of the supernatural in Japanese art. Centered on a monumental installation of painting and sculpture by Takashi Murakami, the show also explores Japanese artists of the past, including Katsushika Hokusai, as well as contemporary artists.
Takashi Murakami, Embodiment of “Um”, 2014 © 2014 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All rights reserved
POP Power from Warhol to Koons
Masterworks from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation
Through March 8, 2020
Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke, Virginia
POP Power celebrates a perennial movement that revels in the new and the now, the celebrity and the commodity, and art made accessible for the masses. Work by Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Takashi Murakami, Richard Prince, and Andy Warhol is included.
Jeff Koons, Gazing Ball (da Vinci Mona Lisa), 2016, Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation © Jeff Koons
Murakami Por Murakami
Through March 15, 2020
Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo
This exhibition, which is a regrouping of Murakami by Murakami, previously on view at the Astrup Fearnley Museet in Oslo, focuses on Takashi Murakami’s renowned artworks, but also presents aspects of his activities as a collector, gallerist, businessman, and activist. In the past twenty years, the artist has been extremely visible on the international art scene, but he has also taken an active role within the Japanese art world, redefining the position of the artist in society.
Takashi Murakami, Tan Tan Bo, 2001 © 2001 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All rights reserved
Through July 5, 2020
NSU Art Museum, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Happy! presents contemporary works produced by artists who aim to engage the viewer emotionally. In their works, as in life, sorrow and happiness are intertwined. The exhibition follows a multigenerational trajectory from the mid-twentieth century to today. Work by Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, Richard Prince, and Andy Warhol is included.
Takashi Murakami, Open Your Hands Wide, Embrace Happiness!, 2010 © 2010 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All rights reserved