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 While Murakami’s imagery may appear to present unprecedented characters and forms, many contain explicit art historical references, and some are even direct contemporary updates on traditional Japanese works.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.
Gagosian Quarterly Summer 2022
The Summer 2022 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, with two different covers—featuring Takashi Murakami’s 108 Bonnō MURAKAMI.FLOWERS (2022) and Andreas Gursky’s V & R II (2022).
Takashi Murakami and RTFKT: An Arrow through History
Bridging the digital and the physical realms, the three-part presentation of paintings and sculptures that make up Takashi Murakami: An Arrow through History at Gagosian, New York, builds on the ongoing collaboration between the artist and RTFKT Studios. Here, Murakami and the RTFKT team explain the collaborative process, the necessity of cognitive revolution, the metaverse, and the future of art to the Quarterly’s Wyatt Allgeier.
Murakami on Ceramics
Takashi Murakami writes about his commitment to the work of Japanese ceramic artists associated with the seikatsu kōgei, or lifestyle crafts, movement.
Takashi Murakami and Hans Ulrich Obrist
Hans Ulrich Obrist interviews the artist on the occasion of his 2012 exhibition Takashi Murakami: Flowers & Skulls at Gagosian, Hong Kong.
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 each other, and the power of collaboration to educate and impassion new audiences.
Nobuo Tsuji vs. Takashi Murakami
From 2009 to 2011 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.
Art Basel Hong Kong 2022
May 27–29, 2022, booth 1C15
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel Hong Kong 2022 with an ensemble of contemporary works by international artists. The gallery’s presentation will feature works by artists including Georg Baselitz, Louise Bonnet, Edmund de Waal, Urs Fischer, Katharina Grosse, Mark Grotjahn, Jennifer Guidi, Simon Hantaï, Hao Liang, Damien Hirst, Thomas Houseago, Tetsuya Ishida, Alex Israel, Ewa Juszkiewicz, Rick Lowe, Takashi Murakami, Albert Oehlen, Nam June Paik, Giuseppe Penone, Rudolf Polanszky, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Jenny Saville, Jim Shaw, Rudolf Stingel, Spencer Sweeney, Rachel Whiteread, and Zeng Fanzhi.
Zeng Fanzhi, Untitled, 2022 © Zeng Fanzhi
Chasing the Eccentrics
Takashi Murakami in Conversation with Etsuko Price
Friday, May 20, 2022, 4:30pm
Japan House, Los Angeles
Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Takashi Murakami: Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow, on view at the Broad, Los Angeles, from May 21 to September 25, 2022, this conversation between Takashi Murakami and Etsuko Price—who, with her husband Joe, has amassed an unparalleled collection of traditional Japanese art focused on the Edo period—will explore how traditional Japanese painting has influenced and inspired Murakami’s creative practice. Moderated by Yuko Kaifu, president of Japan House in Los Angeles, the conversation will also offer a window into the long friendship that Murakami and the Prices have developed over their passion for traditional Japanese art. The conversation will be in both Japanese and English. To attend the event in-person or online, purchase tickets at eventbrite.com.
Left: Takashi Murakami. Right: Etsuko Price
Zona Maco 2022
February 9–13, 2022, booth B115
Centro Citibanamex, Mexico City
Gagosian is pleased to announce its return to Zona Maco México Arte Contemporáneo for the first time since 2018; significantly, this is also the gallery’s first in-person art fair of 2022. Gagosian is presenting a specially curated selection of dynamic paintings, sculptures, and works on paper by iconic figures long associated with the gallery, juxtaposed with works by key contemporary artists. Many of the featured artists are being represented at Zona Maco for the first time.
Rachel Whiteread, Untitled (November), 2020 (detail) © Rachel Whiteread. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd.
Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow
Through September 25, 2022
The Broad, Los Angeles
This exhibition, which includes all of Takashi Murakami’s works in the Broad collection as well as key loans, features eighteen works created throughout his career and new immersive environments developed in tandem with the artist and his studio, Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. In these works, spanning sculpture, painting, wallpaper, and immersive installations, the artist explores subject matter such as globalization, postwar Japan, pop culture, and religious iconography.
Takashi Murakami, In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow, 2014 (detail), The Broad, Los Angeles © 2014 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All rights reserved
Artists Inspired by Music
January 30–February 13, 2022
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
To mark the thirtieth anniversary of Interscope Records, the company invited artists to select albums and songs from Interscope’s groundbreaking catalogue and fostered exchanges between artists and musicians to generate resonant pairings. The exhibition, which includes more than fifty works, brings an intergenerational group of visual artists into dialogue with iconic musicians from the last three decades, providing a fresh perspective on influential music for the present moment. Work by John Currin, Jennifer Guidi, Damien Hirst, Titus Kaphar, Takashi Murakami, Richard Prince, Ed Ruscha, and Anna Weyant is included.
Jennifer Guidi, Seeking Hearts (Black MT, Pink Sand, Pink CS, Pink Ground), 2021 © Jennifer Guidi. Photo: Brica Wilcox
Takashi Murakami in
Stars: Six Contemporary Artists from Japan to the World
July 31, 2020–January 3, 2021
Mori Art Museum, Tokyo
Presenting six artists whose careers propelled them beyond the confines of Japan, earning them acclaim around the world, this exhibition traces their journeys, from their earliest to latest works, and explores how each artist’s practice has been evaluated within the global context. Work by Takashi Murakami is included.
Takashi Murakami, Miss Ko², 1996–2011 © 2011 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All rights reserved
October 27, 2019–July 5, 2020
NSU Art Museum, Nova Southeastern University, 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