Takashi Murakami - Contemporary Art Part I New York Wednesday, May 11, 2011 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo; Sale: Phillips, de Pury & Luxembourg, New York, Contemporary Art Part I, New York, May 15, 2003, lot 6; Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Tokyo, Museum of Contemporary Art, Takashi Murakami: summon monsters? open the door? heal? or die?, August 25 – November 4, 2001, no. 69 (illustrated in color); Kraichtal, Ursula Blickle Stiftung, The Japanese Experience-Inevitable, June 9 –July 14, 2002, pp. 39-44 (illustrated in color); Essen, 20.21 Galerie, A World Out of Joint: Contemporary Art from Japan, November 2002-February 2003

  • Literature

    Kaikaikiki Co., Ltd. And Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, eds., TAKASHI MURAKAMI: summon monsters? open the door? heal? or die?, Japan, 2001, no. e (illustrated in color); M. Brehm, The Japanese Experience – Inevitable, Ostfildern, 2002, pp. 39-44 (illustrated in color)

  • Catalogue Essay

    “… the neologism “Superflat”, which Murakami coined to describe both the formal characteristics of a centuries-old strain of Japanese visual production and that culture’s traditional lack of differentiation between the Western categories of “high” and “low”, would seem to render moot any extended discussion of his complication of those terms” (P. Schimmel, © Murakami, New York, 2007, p. 133). The present lot belongs to Murakami’s series of “Superflat” paintings, a term the artist coined in 1999, the same year this painting was executed. The term “Superflat” refers to a style of flattened forms used in Japanese graphic arts and animation. Magic Ball II (Nega) embodies this style in its opaque hues, clean lines, and smooth surface texture, all characteristics of Japanese cartoons. Murakami also incorporates the visual influence of anime and video games in terms of the work’s content—these inspirations manifest themselves in the dizzying background pattern, as well as in the network of orbs scattered across the canvas that look like small planets out of a science fiction universe. This manner of representation allows Murakami to create an artwork that embodies the aesthetic principles of Japanese mass media and culture. The title, too, seems to reference Japanese popular culture — Magic Ball II (Nega) could easily pass for the name of a video game. The term “Superflat”, however, does not refer solely to Murakami’s anime-derived style. Murakami also coined the term as a way to suggest the shallowness of Japanese consumerism. The flattened, simplistic forms evoke a sense of emptiness meant to echo the hollow nature of the mass media. Murakami initially
    seems to glorify the appearance of Japanese graphics by elevating them to the status of fine art, but at the same time he also intends to criticize their superficiality. As such, Murakami engages with the commercial culture of his native Japan in order to simultaneously honor and critique it.

  • 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


Magic Ball 2 (Nega)

Acrylic on canvas laid down on board in seven parts.
94 1/2 x 248 1/2 in. (240 x 631.2 cm.)
Signed and dated “TAKASHI ’99 & HIROPON FACTORY” on the reverse.

$600,000 - 800,000 

Sold for $842,500

Contemporary Art Part I

12 May 2011
New York