Spotlight Artist: Japan - Takashi Murakami
Takashi Murakami"Tan Tan Bo Puking - a.k.a. Gero Tan" by Takashi Murakami (2002). Acrylic on canvas mounted on board. Private Collection, courtesy of Galerie Perrotin.
Art Code: "Creativity is not a limited resource."
A Japanese contemporary artist, Murakami works in fine arts media (such as painting and sculpture) as well as commercial media (such as fashion, merchandise, and animation) and is known for blurring the line between "high and low" arts. He coined the term "superflat", which describes both the aesthetic characteristics of the Japanese artistic tradition and the nature of post-war Japanese culture and society, and is also used for Murakami's own artistic style and that of other Japanese artists he has influenced.
Murakami has expressed since early on a frustration with the lack of a reliable and sustainable art market in post-war Japan. Largely for this reason, he formulated a strategy wherein he would first establish himself in the Western art world and then import himself back to Japan, building a new type of art market in the process. In order to create something rooted in his own Japanese culture and history but still fresh and valid internationally, he began searching for something that could be considered 'uniquely Japanese.' After concluding that elements of 'high' art were confounding at best, he began to focus on Japan's 'low' culture, especially anime and manga, and the larger subculture of otaku. His artistic style and motifs (cute/disturbing anime-esque characters rendered in bright colors, flat and highly glossy surfaces, life-size sculptures of anime figurines) derived from this strategy. This is demonstrated in his whimsical Cosmos Ball from 2000, in the collection of the Honolulu Museum of Art.
In 2000, Murakami published his "Superflat" theory in the catalogue for a group exhibition of the same name that he curated for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. The theory posits that there is a legacy of flat, 2-dimensional imagery from Japanese art history in manga and anime. This style differentiates itself from the western approach in its emphasis on surface and use of flat planes of color. Superflat also served as a commentary on post-war Japanese society in which, Murakami argues, differences in social class and popular taste have 'flattened,' producing a culture with little distinction between 'high' and 'low'. The theory provided the context for his work and he elaborated on it with the exhibitions "Coloriage" (2002, Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, Paris) and "Little Boy: The Arts of Japan's Exploding Subculture" (2005, Japan Society, New York). These helped introduce Japan's lesser-known creative culture overseas and such curatorial projects would become an integral part of Murakami's multifaceted artistic practice.
In accordance with the Superflat concept, Murakami's practice involves repackaging elements usually considered "low" or subcultural and presenting them in the "high-art" market. He then further flattens the playing field by repackaging his "high-art" works as merchandise, such as plush toys and T-shirts, making them available at more affordable prices.
(excerpt from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takashi_Murakami)
One element of Coach's Art Code is "Creativity is not a limited resource." Based on the readings and videos, why would I highlight Murakami for this part of the code?
What does "popular culture" mean? Give some examples from your life.
Murakami often speaks about "high" art and "low" art? What does he mean by this? Is there really a difference?
Murakami often pulls from Japan's artistic traditions in his work. Is he honoring the tradition or degrading it through his work?