Born in Tokyo, Japan in February 1, 1962, Takashi Murakami was a fan of anime and manga, Japanese comics, from an early age. This led him to pursue art education at Tokyo University of the Arts, where he majored in Nihonga, the traditional style of Japanese painting. He earned a PhD. in Nihonga, but later explored more contemporary artistic styles and techniques. His early work was not received well in Japan.
Murakami’s are uses a wide range of media including work on canvas, sculpture and commercial application. His work has been described as cute, funny, psychedelic and disturbing. Recurring themes of colorful flowers, skulls and Buddhist are married with the sexual nature of otaku. For commercial use, his work has been featured in collaborations with Kanye West, Marc Jacobs, Ecco and many more.
Murakami’s legacy will be the mixing of two cultures, and two social planes. The high and low, the east and west, the cute and perverted. His work is already part of permanent collections like the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), New York. He recently opened his first solo show in 10 years called, “The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg” at the MOMA in Chicago. His work is also part of the permanent collection is one of the prestigious contemporary art collection in the world at The Broad in Los Angeles. There is no denying Murakami is one of the most important art figures of the turn of the century.
Straight out of the land of the rising sun, Takashi Murakami’s rise and fame in the contemporary art world has been like a rocket propelled with colorful flowers and anime characters. A destroyer of art and commerce barriers, a bridge builder between “high” and “low” art, Murakami is not afraid. He takes on every new project with defiance in his veins and happiness in his heart. He’s emerged as the face of Japanese art over the past two decades. Embraced by pop culture and the reluctant “high brow” art society. With no hesitation to make a statement, he merges high end with the subculture of otaku, a strange perversion of cuteness and innocence with violence and sexuality. It is this boldness that’s made Murakami one of the most highly sought after artists of the past 20 years.
It was the US that first embraced Murakami. He was frustrated by lack of a sustainable art market in Japan and thought that he would first attempt to make waves in the US and import himself back to Japan. The bet paid off. In 2000, Murakami published “Superflat,” the catalog after a show he curated for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. The theory states that there is a legacy of flat imagery from Japan. Different from the western approach, the emphasis on surface and use of flat planes of color. His rise to fame came as an artist that used subculture references and applied them to high art markets.