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.
We are driven by an innate ambition to make artworks that are shaped by societal observations—in a variety of media—which by their existence produce a new cultural impact.
Coinciding with London Fashion Week 2018, Gagosian is pleased to present future history, collaborative works by Takashi Murakami and Virgil Abloh.
Working together in Murakami’s Tokyo studio, Murakami and Abloh have produced a unique series of works in which their styles and trademarks intersect in a stream of freewheeling, punkish mash-ups. The two artists, kindred spirits from different sectors of a broader cultural zone, reflect incisively on the signs of the times in which we live.
In his protean oeuvre that has captured the imagination of an entire generation, Murakami draws from sources as diverse as traditional Japanese painting, otaku subculture, Western art theory, Hollywood, and hip-hop. His expansive art production spills over into fashion, film, and commercial commodities, exploding the divisions of high art and pop culture.
Trained as an architect and engineer, Abloh works across fashion, architecture, performance, and consumer products, often deconstructing the creative process in public to challenge and analyze existing aesthetic systems and their distribution. The street-couture label Off-White, which he founded in 2013, combines traditional tailoring with more subversive references, dispensing with common conventions of fashion.
The duo’s ironic and insouciant artistic gestures are designed to disrupt the divisions and tiers of stratified cultural production. The sculpture Life itself (2018) is a kind of architectural carapace designed by Abloh to house one of Murakami’s brightly sinister flower sculptures. In another instance, Glance past the future (2018), they transform Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s 1623 self-portrait by superimposing Murakami’s character Mr. DOB to affect a graphic blur of pink and black, like a desecrated street poster leaving behind traces of an art-historical lineage.
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.
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”.
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).
December 9–15, 2020
Takashi Murakami seamlessly blends commercial imagery, anime, manga, and traditional Japanese styles and subjects, revealing the themes and questions that connect past and present, East and West, technology and fantasy. His paintings, sculptures, and films are populated by repeated motifs and evolving characters of his own creation. Together with dystopian themes and contemporary references, he revitalizes narratives of transcendence in continuation of the nonconformist legacy of a group of eighteenth-century Japanese artists known as the Edo eccentrics.
Photo: Claire Dorn