Takashi Murakami - New Now Hong Kong Friday, March 29, 2024 | Phillips
  • Widely celebrated for his vibrant and whimsical artworks and having solidified his position in the global art world, Takashi Murakami is an artist that needs no introduction. Renowned as the founder of the Superflat movement, the artist is best known for his flat aesthetic – referencing the flattened imagery in traditional Japanese Nihonga painting and 2D visuals such as anime and manga. Transcending beyond the confines of a canvas, Untitled is presented in 3D form, bringing to life the unique persona and qualities of Murakami’s much-admired subject.


    “Sometimes he’s playful and sweet. Sometimes he’s more menacing. Sometimes he’s being affected by all these external forces. Or is even able to maybe create certain moods and ideas that reflect his own personal and artistic struggles, and channel that into Mr. DOB.”
    — Michael Darling on Takashi Murakami and Mr. DOB


    Standing in a rigid posture, as if frozen in time, Mr. DOB in Untitled evokes a sense of discomfort and unconsciousness. Gazing directly at the viewer with his hypnotic blue eyes and unsettling wide grin, Mr. DOB provokes contemplation and reflects Murakami’s dissenting opinions on today’s consumer society. Polished to perfection, its glistening surface encourages observers to circumambulate the work. Physically manifesting the alphabets D, O, and B, they are printed on the ears of the figure and utilise the circular shape of his visage as a reference to his name. Having made its first appearance in 1994, his name hails from the Japanese expression dobojite, which translates to “why” in Japanese slang – addressing the artist’s confrontation of the largely Western dominated art world. In viewing Murakami’s works, his transgression of high art obscures the commercial with the sublime, setting the artist as an innovator of a revolutionary method that outlilnes the audience’s understanding of a globalised contemporary culture.


    As seen in the present work, Mr. DOB has become a central character to feature in the artist’s paintings and sculptures, becoming synonymous with Murakami’s oeuvre. Holding a playful and recurring presence in Murakami’s practice, the character symbolises an amalgamation of Japanese pop culture, consumerism, as well as his own interpretation of contemporary society. Inspired by iconic cartoon characters such as Mickey Mouse, Doraemon, and Sonic the Hedgehog, Mr. DOB has further come to serve as an alter-ego for Murakami himself – embodying the complexities and nuances of his ever-evolving artistic identity. In 2019, the present work was included in the artist’s solo exhibition Baka at Galerie Perrotin in Paris – a major show that was dedicated to Murakami’s ubiquitous self-invented Mr. DOB. The pink coloured editions of Untitled are also more limited than the ones that are executed in other colours. Larger versions of the present work that are executed in a variety of colours have also been unveiled at the artist’s ongoing exhibition Takashi Murakami at Nahmad Contemporary, Gstaad.



     Takashi Murakami discusses his ever-evolving art practice and inspiration behind his iconic Mr. DOB characters.

    Video courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago


    Collector’s Digest 


    • Born in Tokyo in 1962, Takashi Murakami studied Japanese painting at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, where he received his BA in fine arts in 1986, and a Ph.D. in 1993.

    • Trained in Japanese traditional painting, the artist has 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. In 2001, he founded Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd., an art production company with offices in Tokyo and New York.

    • 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.

    • The artist’s most recent large-scale solo exhibition Takashi Murakami Mononoke Kyoto will be held at Kyoto City KYOCERA Museum of Art until 1 September 2024. This monumental show features over 160 new artworks by Murakami in celebration for the museum’s 90th anniversary.
    • 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.

    • Provenance

      Galerie Perrotin, Paris
      Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2021

    • Exhibited

      Paris, Galerie Perrotin, Baka, 16 October - 21 December 2019

    • 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



FRP, urethane paint, stainless steel, wood
87.1 x 68.8 x 47 cm. (34 1/4 x 27 1/8 x 18 1/2 in.)
Executed in 2020, this work is number 11 from an edition of 20 plus 1 artist's proof and 2 special proofs.

Full Cataloguing

HK$650,000 - 850,000 

Sold for HK$635,000

Contact Specialist

Angela Tian
Associate Specialist, Head of New Now Sale
20th Century & Contemporary Art, Hong Kong
+852 2318 2058

New Now

Hong Kong Auction 29 March 2024