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 While Murakami’s imagery may appear to present unprecedented characters and forms, many contain explicit art historical references, and some are even direct contemporary updates on traditional Japanese works.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
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.
The Art of Wishes 2019
Tuesday, October 1, 2019
Royal Horticultural Halls, London
Founded by philanthropist and Make‐A‐Wish UK patron Batia Ofer, the third annual Art of Wishes will feature a benefit auction to raise money for Make-A-Wish UK, a nonprofit organization that grants the wishes of children with critical illnesses. In advance of the charity event, a preview of the artworks will be open to the public from September 19 to 20 at Phillips London in Berkeley Square. More than twenty artworks by leading international artists such as Virgil Abloh, Michael Craig‐Martin, Takashi Murakami, Richard Wright, and others will be included.
Richard Wright, Untitled, 2002 © Richard Wright
Wednesday, February 20, 2019, 7:30–8:30pm
Bing Theater, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Takashi Murakami will speak with Stephen Little, a curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, about his work, including the upcoming exhibition Takashi Murakami: GYATEI² at Gagosian, Beverly Hills. LACMA director Michael Govan will introduce the conversation. To attend the free event, register at my.lacma.org.
Photo: Chika Okazumi
Art Basel Hong Kong 2019
March 29–31, 2019, booth 1C18
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel Hong Kong 2019, with works by Georg Baselitz, Edmund de Waal, Urs Fischer, Katharina Grosse, Andreas Gursky, Duane Hanson, Damien Hirst, Thomas Houseago, Yayoi Kusama, René Magritte, Giorgio Morandi, Takashi Murakami, Albert Oehlen, Nam June Paik, Richard Prince, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra, Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselmann, Rachel Whiteread, Jonas Wood, Christopher Wool, Zao Wou-Ki, Zeng Fanzhi, and others.
Zeng Fanzhi, Rooster, 2019 © 2019 Zeng Fanzhi
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
October 27, 2019–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
Murakami vs Murakami
June 1–September 1, 2019
Tai Kwun Contemporary, Hong Kong
This comprehensive survey features more than sixty paintings and sculptures in an immersive setting that showcases the intriguing paradoxes embodied in the diverse work and life of Takashi Murakami.
Installation view, Murakami vs Murakami, Tai Kwun Contemporary, Hong Kong, June 1–September 1, 2019. Artwork © 2019 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All rights reserved. Photo: Guillaume Ziccarelli
The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg
June 10–September 16, 2018
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth will present a major retrospective of Takashi Murakami’s paintings, featuring fifty works that span three decades of his career, from the artist’s earliest mature works to his recent, monumentally scaled paintings. This exhibition originated at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and traveled from the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Takashi Murakami, Klein’s Pot A, 1994–97 © 2018 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All rights reserved. Photo: Yoshitaka Uchida