Takashi Murakami - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale Hong Kong Saturday, November 23, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Blum & Poe, Los Angeles
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • 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)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Takashi Murakami is one of the most successful and influential contemporary artists to emerge from Japan in recent decades. 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 belie the sharp, subversive intelligence of their creator.

    Graduating with a PhD from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts in 1993, encounters with the simulationist art of Jeff Koons and later with a collective of installation and performance artists in New York led to Murakami rejecting his training in the traditional Japanese artistic conventions and techniques of nihonga in favour of acrylic paints and a fully-fledged exploration of Japanese otaku subcultures.

    Superflat” was Murakami’s 2001 manifesto arising from this period of reflection, a term referring to the two-dimensionality of Japanese graphic art and animation, as well as describing an ironic response to the perceived shallowness of the media, entertainment and consumer culture. Murakami’s work subsequently adopted a blend of contemporary Japanese pop culture themes and motifs (most notably manga comics and anime) together with influences from traditional Japanese painting and printmaking, in particular the flat and brightly-coloured simplicity of ukiyo-e woodblock prints (see for example Utagawa Hiroshige’s Flowers of the Four Seasons).

    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, 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” (the artist quoted in Arthur Lubow, ‘The Murakami Method’, The New York Times, 3 April 2005, online).

    Cherries also pays tribute to the influence of Pop Art on the Superflat movement, referencing American sculptor Claes Oldenburg’s celebrated Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture (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.

    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.

    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.

  • 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.

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FRP, steel, acrylic and urethane paint
218.4 x 165.1 x 78.7 cm. (85 7/8 x 65 x 30 7/8 in.)
Executed in 2005, this work is number 2 from an edition of 5 plus 2 artist's proofs.

HK$3,000,000 - 5,000,000 

Sold for HK$3,125,000

Contact Specialist
Charlotte Raybaud
Head of Evening Sale, 20th Century & Contemporary Art

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 24 November 2019