My five-year-old could paint that!: Murakami Takashi Edition

Posted By Horizon Staff November 13th, 2012 in Arts & Entertainment : 1 COMMENTS

Austin Danson

Staff Writer

This week we wind down our discussion of the bad boys of the contemporary art scene, as it were. Hirst, Koons, Murakami, the artists who shamelessly employ the help of assistants to churn work out of factories and sell it for enormous sums of money. Say what you want about their ethics, the pieces are fantastic and the artists themselves are incredibly well off. As Andy Warhol used to say, “Good business is the best art.” If this quote rings true, then Takashi Murakimi is an undeniably brilliant artist—Let’s take a look:

Quick Facts
Name: 村上 隆 (Murakami Takashi)

Nationality: Japanese
Home Town: Tokyo, Japan

Age: 50


Born on February 1, 1962 in Tokyo Japan, Muramaki grew up immersed in the worlds of anime and manga. He enrolled in the Tokyo University of the Arts intending to study draftsmanship and then work in the anime world, but graduated instead with a degree in traditionally Japanese art or, Nihonga. Although he eventually found himself rather disillusioned by the rather political attitude surrounding the field, Murakami would go on to earn a PhD in Nihonga.

Deeply discontent with the incessantly west-looking attitude to modern art in Japan, Murakami began to develop a style of modern art which would both be entirely modern, and yet informed mostly by Japanese ideas and culture.

Murakami launched his Hiropon Factory (named after his anime character of a nearly nude female with massive lactating breasts) in 1996, and since has gone to work on larger and larger scale pieces in an increasingly diversified manner- combining elements of anime and manga with sculpture, Japanese print making, painting, clothing, and pieces which mix two or more of these media together.

Work and Criticism:

Murakami is perhaps best known for working in a style which he both created and published the theory of in a catalogue for a group exhibition for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. This style is known as “Superflat.” In essence, Superflat’s goal is to take ideas and techniques from the ubiquitously 2-D nature of Japanese art and repurpose them to flatten all ideas of art- high, low, eastern, western, etc. For example, Murakami will often create a multi million-dollar painting using his mouse-like character “Mr. DOB”, and then go on to print a sixty dollar shirt with the same subject matter.

High art pundits love to hate this type of kitschy remarketing, but Murakami’s success sort of makes their critics irrelevant. Though people who negatively comment on Murakami’s work believe they are holding onto values of “pure” art, their ideas are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Blurring the lines of kitsch and fine art, and moving fine art away from its somewhat grandiose, “higher than thou,” pedestal may in fact become how the art world works in the future. Murakami, Koons, and Hirst all display elements of this high and low art flattening, and regardless of what they call it, their work is undoubtedly flattening the art market and world.



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