Takashi Murakami & Virgil Abloh - Disruptors: Evening Sale of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Design and Watches Hong Kong Thursday, May 25, 2023 | Phillips
  • “There is a zone of supremacy in the art world and there is a sense that fine art is the most precious and has the highest status. My collaboration with Virgil is trying to create something that is completely outside of that framework.”
    — Takashi Murakami


    “Satire and irony are looming themes that are part of our now. Our dialogue is not so much embedded in the art; it’s embedded in the atmosphere that we’re creating.”
    — Virgil Abloh


    Arrows and Flower is a stunning neon sculpture that bears witness to the ingenuity and artistry of two creative titans: Takashi Murakami and Virgil Abloh. This scintillating, captivating work is an embodiment of the artistic synergy and fervour that binds these two visionaries together.


    Like their creative predecessors, artists have always sought out collaborators to create works that surpass the confines of their individual mediums. The early 20th Century had Man Ray and Duchamp, while the 1980s had Warhol and Basquiat. Not to be deprived, today we have the masterful collaboration of Takashi Murakami and Virgil Abloh. These two luminaries initially crossed paths in 2007 when Murakami designed an album cover for rapper Kanye West, and Abloh served as the creative director for the project.


    Virgil Abloh and Takashi Murakami
    Photo: Fabien Montique



    Creative Unison


    The present work is a testament to the artists' exceptional artistic talent and their willingness to embrace unconventional and experimental concepts. Collaboration was at the heart of the relationship between these two visionary disruptors, as Abloh explained: 'I like that collaborating is evidence of being human. This is what happens when you join two people that are similar but very different. Our works of art are born from that dialogue.' i Arrows and Flower showcases the unique styles and aesthetics of both artists in a way that is both bold and innovative. The sculpture features Murakami's iconic flower motif, rendered in bold and vivid colours, juxtaposed with Abloh's use of arrows that intersect and overlap with the flowers.


    A true explosion of colour, form, and materiality, the work captivates the viewer with its stunning beauty and creative expression. The composition is dynamic and visually engaging, with the Off-White arrows creating a sense of movement and direction that draws the viewer's eye around the piece. The flower, on the other hand, provide a sense of stability and balance, grounding the composition and serving as a counterpoint to the arrows' frenetic energy to balance mechanical and organic forms. The overall effect is one of harmony and tension, with the two elements working together to create a singular work of art that is both visually arresting and intellectually stimulating.



    Virgil Abloh & Takashi Murakami's discuss their collaboration for their "TECHNICOLOR 2" exhibition


    Murakami and Abloh's use of neon serves a dual purpose: it adds a striking visual element to the artwork, while also allows for an exploration into the themes of technology and consumer culture. Often associated with post-modernity (think bright lights, big city), the inclusion of neon in Arrows and Flower reflects the role that technology plays in contemporary life. Furthermore, the bold polychrome of neon serves to draw our attention, emphasising the present work's compositional dynamism. The use of neon takes on a final, more salient feature as it highlights the ever-growing infatuation between art and commerce, reflecting the artists' interest in elements of commerciality and its impact on society.


    Rejecting the exclusivity that can sometimes be associated with the art world, Murakami and Abloh are true pioneers in synthesising culture and dissolving the boundaries between high and low art. Like two sides of a coin, they are both celebrated figures in their own right, with Murakami having been at the forefront of contemporary art for decades, blending hip-hop, anime, traditional Japanese painting, and Western art theory into his signature style.


    Before his untimely death last year, Abloh was a prolific artist and designer who shifted seamlessly between fashion, architecture, music, furniture design, and contemporary art. His Off-White clothing label has become an icon in itself, taking everyday symbols and turning them into the signature motifs of his visual language, much like Murakami has done with his whimsical characters and flowers. The dynamic between these two artists is akin to two dialects of the same language, with each one complementing the other, and their collaboration is a testament to the beauty and power of artistic synergy.


    Marcel Duchamp & Man Ray in Entr'acte, 1924, directed by René Clair


    The collaboration between Takashi Murakami and Virgil Abloh represents an innovative and avant-garde approach to contemporary art and design. It goes beyond being just a simple partnership - it is a celebration of the spirit of artistic collaboration and a testament to the power of two creative forces coming together to create something truly remarkable. Through the incorporation of a range of symbols and motifs that are synonymous with both artists, the neon lights showcase the intersection of pop culture, streetwear, and contemporary art, blurring the lines between these seemingly disparate genres.



    A Marriage of Art and Fashion


    This linkup is just one example of the increasing trend of crossovers between the worlds of fashion and fine art. In recent years, there has been a marked increasing number of crossovers between fashion designers and artists, as both fields seek to push the boundaries of creativity and explore new forms of expression. The future of art and fashion is one of constant exploration and innovation, and the parameters between the two fields will continue to blur as artists and designers seek new ways to express themselves and connect with audiences around the world.



    Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol, Bananas, 1984-85
    Sold by Phillips New York, 23 June 2021 for US$4,300,000 (premium)
    Artwork: © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York and © 2023 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


    Ultimately, this collaboration between Takashi Murakami and Virgil Abloh represents a new frontier in the world of contemporary production. Arrows and Flower is not only a celebration of pure vision, innovation, and the limitless possibilities of human expression, but also encapsulates the evolution and dynamic nature of modern art and design. They are a true reflection of the artists' shared vision and their unwavering commitment to pushing the boundaries of human creation.


    Collector’s Digest


    • Vigil Abloh was an American multidisciplinary artist involved in the worlds of fashion, business, music, and contemporary art. He was the creative director for Louis Vuitton menswear and the founder of the Off-White label. As a trained architect and Kanye West's former creative director, Abloh refined and honed his ability to tune into the needs and desires of different audiences, establishing himself as one of the leaders of contemporary consumer culture.

    • Trained in Japanese traditional painting, Takashi Murakami later become the main exponent of the Superflat movement, a contemporary hybrid form of artistic representation which draws inspiration from the Nihonga traditional style and from Japanese Pop cultural elements. Interested in the relations between fine arts and the commercial world, Murakami regularly collaborates with fashion and design brands: his most notable artistic partnerships include those with Supreme, Uniqlo, Crocs, Louis Vuitton and Casio.

    • Among his latest exhibitions are Takashi Murakami: Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow at The Broad, Los Angeles (21 May – 25 September 2022) and Takashi Murakami: An Arrow Through History at Gagosian New York (11 May – 25 June 2022).


      i Annie Armstrong, ‘Collaborating Is Evidence of Being Human: Virgil Abloh and Takashi Murakami Join Forces for Gagosian Show’, ArtNews, 22 October 2018, online


    • Provenance

      Gagosian, Paris
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Paris, Gagosian, TECHNICOLOR 2, 23 June - 28 July 2018 (another example exhibited)
      Arts Aventura Mall, Experience Contemporary Art in Miami (another example exhibited)



signed and dated 'TAKASHI "VIRGIL" © 2018' on the right edge; numbered 'ED.NO.1' on the reverse
110.3 x 110.3 x 28 cm. (43 3/8 x 43 3/8 x 11 in.)
Executed in 2018, this work is number 1 from an edition of 3 plus 3 artist's proofs.

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HK$1,200,000 - 2,200,000 

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Disruptors: Evening Sale of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Design and Watches

Hong Kong Auction 25 May 2023