Takashi Murakami, one of the world's top artists, was born in Itabashi, Tokyo in 1962.
He was fascinated by manga and anime (Japanese comics and animations) from an early age and dreamed of working in the animation industry.
However, he gave up the dream due to the difficulty of surviving in the industry and instead graduated from the Department of Japanese Painting at Tokyo University of the Arts in 1986. He also completed a master's degree in art research at the university in 1988.
However, he gave up the path to become a Japanese-style painter because his graduation work was runner-up. Perhaps he was frustrated because he could not get first prize in spite of his outstanding performance, or perhaps he judged that he would not be able to compete in the world. Either way, people around him could not hide their surprise.
Here are some unknown truths about the enigmatic Takashi Murakami.
His Younger Brother is also a Genius Painter
Takashi Murakami's younger brother, Yuji Murakami, is active worldwide as a Japanese-style painter, which his brother gave up.
Yuji's works feature many famous characters such as Ultraman and Godzilla, and are reminiscent of his brother Takashi's style.
Debut in the U.S.
Takashi received the first doctorate in Japanese painting from the Tokyo University of the Arts in 1993.
However, he became tired of the structure and system of the Japanese art industry and strategically expanded his activities overseas.
This action was based on his understanding of the Japanese tendency to readily accept things that have been acclaimed abroad. Indeed, there are many things in Japan today, including smartphones, that originated overseas.
He also deeply explored the unique Japanese art expression and established his own expression of "high art and low art." It refers to a technique that understands the boundary between anime and manga, and intentionally mixes them up. This technique is called "super flat," and he says it represents the non-hierarchical and uniform popular culture that emerged in postwar Japanese society.
It is the result of his objective pursuit of how to be appreciated as an artist, rather than painting the work he wanted to paint.
His success overseas spread to Japan in the form of reimportation, and he came to be recognized as a world-famous contemporary artist by the Japanese people.
Ukiyoe and Rimpa School Influenced His Style
Takashi's works are heavily influenced by Japanese painting, although many of them seem to be cute.
They contain keywords of contemporary culture, such as the flatness of Japanese painting and otaku culture. His works are famous for their use of subcultural and otaku subjects such as anime and character figurines.
Takashi describes himself as not a genius. As such, he has studied and utilized management and image building for himself.
He often receives criticism for his comments on Twitter as he RTs tweets critical of himself. But he professes with a smile that it is "blew-up marketing"!
He conveys himself what kind of person and artist he is, and the secret of his long career as a top artist may be his self-management in accordance with the modern society, utilizing social networking services, etc.
Great Collaboration with Louis Vuitton
In 2002, at the invitation of designer Marc Jacobs, Takashi began a long-term collaboration
They designed a series of handbags, an event that blurred the line between high art and commercialism, and achieved great reputation and prestige.
It increased the brand's visibility among the general public not only in the world but also in Japan.
An Artist, but also a President
In 2001, Takashi founded the limited liability company "kaikai kiki". This company is mainly engaged in the training of young artists.
He conducts an esoteric practice with young artists: he asks them questions on a daily basis in order to develop the artist's own inner world.
In addition to creating artworks, the company also produces films and runs a gallery and a café.
Much Criticism in Japan
While Takashi's work has received great acclaim in the U.S., some in Japan have expressed displeasure, saying that his works exploit and falsifie otaku and anime culture.
Many also criticize him for using the titles of entrepreneur and producer in combination with his main title as an artist.
On the other hand, it is also true that he has received offers from many companies and brands. It proves that he has that much influence and appeal in Japan as well.
His Company is on the Verge of Bankruptcy
kaikai kiki has suffered an unexpected financial blow due to the coronavirus.
He devoted nine years of his time to a project called "Jellyfish Eyes 2," but he had to abandon this project as well. The project probably costed an unimaginable amount of money, so he himself said, "It was a heartbreaking experience."
How was it? Takashi Murakami is famous all over the world, but there must have been a lot of information that you learned for the first time.
Let's check out the future of him as well as other contemporary Japanese artists who may follow in his footsteps.
Check Artworks by Unknown Japanese Contemporary Artists