Takashi Murakami’s own work has filled the exhibition spaces of many a museum, but this month the Japanese artist’s personal art collection will be unveiled to the public on a grand scale for the first time.
“Superflat,” the name of the art movement influenced by Japanese anime cartoons that was founded by Takashi Murakami, also describes the human characters in his first feature film, Jellyfish Eyes.
MÉRIDA, MEXICO — Over the past two years planet art has born witness to a drastic metamorphosis. The mental apparition of “Asian Art,” inhabiting its blanket concept, was once as innocuous as Casper the friendly ghost. Westerners were at leisure to muse and amuse themselves with its mysteries and exoticisms, with the fleeting attentions of a visitor into another lord’s cabinet of curiosities.
Today our imaginations and anticipations have fed it to megalithic proportions. And the economic boom of contemporary art in the 21st Century continues to relentlessly close the gap between the world’s cultures of expression, to the point where the bedsheets of West and East have begun to rub up against one another — sometimes roughly. There is even talk of the voracious appetite of the Yellow Peril of Asian Art, positioning its markets and state-ordained “cultural industries” to consume planet art altogether.
Think contemporary art’s going mainstream? It doesn’t end with Louis Vuitton bags and album covers. Joining the cartoon figures and name-brand mascots at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade were superstar contemporary artist Takashi Murakami’s signature surreal characters, KaiKai and KiKi, two anime critters that share monikers with Murakami’s company. Below, check out a selection of photos from Murakami’s participation in the parade, which also featured the artist himself dancing on the float wearing a flower suit, another trademark.
Yoshitomo Nara’s retrospective Nobody’s Fool at Asia Society is what you would get if art museums loosened up and let themselves have some fun. After climbing the institution’s glassy modern stairs, what greets visitors isn’t a succession of white-walled galleries but a mishmash of wood-walled cubbies and tiny chambers that force participants to kneel down and greet Nara’s drawings, paintings and sculptures on their own terms: close to the floor, like a child exploring a new world. And that’s what Nara’s work is all about: a journey through a world influenced by childhood, small emotions writ large and wonder in hidden corners.
You may have heard the term “Superflat” tossed around in relation to some paintings reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoons on crack, or maybe a series of drawings that look familiar, but with an extra dash of foreign, outer-space weirdness. You’ve probably heard of “kawaii” culture or maybe even Kaikai-Kiki. And if you haven’t? Fear not, because we’re going to go through all this vocab together to marshal what exactly Superflat is.