Takashi Murakami - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale Hong Kong Thursday, March 30, 2023 | Phillips
  • “Rather than a big figure, I guess you could say I'm more of an influential minority symbol.
    — Takashi Murakami

    A master cultural synthesiser of our time, Takashi Murakami was named by Time magazine as one of the world's most influential icons. Celebrated as multi-hyphenate icons and leaders of contemporary consumer culture, Murakami uses pop culture as a springboard to transform contemporary art, attracting new audiences and building a stronger bridge between art and the general public, fashion, and subculture.


    Known for blurring the lines between high art and popular visual culture, and for challenging the divide between artistic practice and commercial enterprise, Murakami’s colourful sculptures and paintings, such as Cherries, belie the sharp, subversive intelligence of their creator.



    Installation view of another edition of the current work at Hong Kong Museum of Art, Louis Vuitton: A Passion for Creation, 22 May - 9 August 2009
    Artwork: ©︎ 2005 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved


    Playful Encounter


    With its irresistible charm and a sly provocativeness, Cherries shows Murakami to be an artist skilled at navigating the realm of the surreal. The traditionally sexual connotations of cherry fruit are undermined by the disarming, candy-coloured smiles of Murakami’s Cherries, offering a joyfully surreal encounter for viewers.


    In the midst of his deep dive into otaku culture during the mid-1990s, Murakami realised the greater relatable appeal and potential of kawaii (cuteness), and thus re-oriented his art from confrontation to cuteness. He created a strange, imaginary world of iconic characters including Mr. DOB, Kaikai, Kiki and enchanted mushrooms, eyes, and flowers. He explained in an interview with the New York Times: ‘I found a system for what is a cute character,’ and on a whiteboard at Kaikai Kiki he drew a circle with the top half blank and the bottom half containing two dots for eyes and a smiling mouth. ‘In the kawaii system, this scale is very important.’ i



    Claes Oldenburg, Spoonbridge and Cherry, 1988
    Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
    Image: © Whirlitzer | Dreamstime.com

    Cherries also pays tribute to the influence of Pop Art on the Superflat movement that Murakami had pioneered, referencing American sculptor Claes Oldenburg’s celebrated Spoonbridge and Cherry (1988) for the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Oldenburg created monumental works based on everyday consumer objects which elevated the banal to the extraordinary, and Cherries in its bold, voluptuous form provides a humorous, even Americanised, counterpoint to the mystique and rituals of Japanese cherry blossom culture. But whilst Pop Art took a somewhat quizzical, even critical look at capitalism and the burgeoning culture of consumerism, Murakami transcended those boundaries altogether.



    Breaking Boundaries 

    When future audiences look at our work, I’d like them to think of the end of an era when art was still sheltered in a sanctuary, and when we were working ceaselessly to bring it outside.
    — Takashi Murakami

    Cherries was created in 2005, the same year that Murakami’s flourishing collaboration with Louis Vuitton saw Murakami’s kawaii smiling red cherries featured alongside the historic LV monogram on the label’s cult luxury handbags and accessories. Murakami’s instantly-recognisable smiling cherry icon is now immortalised in art and fashion history, his collaboration with the French fashion house propelling Murakami to celebrity status in Japan and around the world, and cementing his reputation as an artist unafraid of blurring the boundaries between ‘high’ art and commercial enterprise.


    Cherries being cooperated into a Louis Vuitton pattern
    Facade of a Louis Vuitton store on Champs-Élysées, Paris, April 2005

    Murakami continues to work deliberately to reject the air of exclusivity surrounding art, synthesising elements of high and low culture across all areas of his work. Showing a fiercely entrepreneurial streak in his work, he is a game-changer in terms of his desire to cut across conventional boundaries for an artist in the art world (most notably through the establishment of his art production and artist management company KaiKai KiKi), as well as through his collaborations across altogether different industries (for example with cult fashion designer and music producer Virgil Abloh), effortlessly switching between contemporary cultural and subcultural trends. Since his first solo exhibition outside Japan in 1995 at Galerie Perrotin, Murakami’s status as one of the most important artists of our time has been confirmed by numerous exhibitions at prominent museums and art institutions around the world, including the Palais de Tokyo in Paris and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.


    Collector’s Digest  

    • Best known for his celebrated oeuvre that fuses fine art with pop culture, Takashi Murakami founded the Superflat movement in the 1990s and Kaikai Kiki Studio in 2001, opening doors for many rising and established Japanese artists such as Mr., Akayo Rokkaku, Chiho Aoshima and MADSAKI.

    • Collaborating with numerous bands and celebrities including Kanye West, Louis Vuitton, Pharrell Williams and Billie Eilish, Murakami’s astoundingly rich and varied oeuvre has received unparalleled popularity, cementing his position as one of the most renowned artists in the contemporary art scene.

    • Murakami’s works are in the most prestigious public collections of notable institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Los Angeles; The Broad, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Foundation Louis Vuitton, Paris; Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo; Guggenheim, Abu Dhabi; Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul; Long Museum, Shanghai; M+, Hong Kong; and Tai Kwun, Hong Kong, amongst others.


    Takashi Murakami,  quoted in Arthur Lubow, ‘The Murakami Method’, The New York Times, 3 April 2005, online

    • Provenance

      Perrotin Gallery
      Private Collection, London (acquired from the above in 2006)
      Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2020

    • Exhibited

      Hong Kong Museum of Art, Louis Vuitton: A Passion for Creation, 22 May - 9 August 2009, p. 23 (another example exhibited and illustrated)

    • Literature

      Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton, Louis Vuitton: Art, Fashion and Architecture, New York, 2009, p. 302 (another example illustrated)

    • Artist Biography

      Takashi Murakami

      Japanese • 1962

      Takashi Murakami is best known for his contemporary combination of fine art and pop culture. He uses recognizable iconography like Mickey Mouse and cartoonish flowers and infuses it with Japanese culture. The result is a boldly colorful body of work that takes the shape of paintings, sculptures and animations.

      In the 1990s, Murakami founded the Superflat movement in an attempt to expose the "shallow emptiness of Japanese consumer culture." The artist plays on the familiar aesthetic of mangas, Japanese-language comics, to render works that appear democratic and accessible, all the while denouncing the universality and unspecificity of consumer goods. True to form, Murakami has done collaborations with numerous brands and celebrities including Kanye West, Louis Vuitton, Pharrell Williams and Google.

      View More Works



signed, dated and numbered 'TAKASHI 05 1/5' on the inside rim of the top of stem
FRP, steel, acrylic and urethane paint
200 x 100 x 71 cm. (78 3/4 x 39 3/8 x 27 7/8 in.)
Executed in 2005, this work is number 1 from an edition of 5 plus 2 artist's proofs.

Full Cataloguing

HK$2,500,000 - 3,500,000 

Sold for HK$3,302,000

Contact Specialist

Charlotte Raybaud
Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+852 2318 2026

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 30 March 2023