Takashi Murakami - Contemporary Art Day Sale New York Friday, May 17, 2013 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Perrotin, Paris
    Acquired from the above by the present owner, in 1997

  • Catalogue Essay

    Takashi Murakami has put his indelible stamp on art history, bringing to the international stage a representation of contemporary Japanese art unequaled in today's art world. Murakami's resistance to conformity has made him a presence in both the commercial world and that of high art, blending Western traditions of Pop art and marketing with graphic design of his homeland. Indeed, much of Murakami's success is owed to his singular genius as a global art marketeer, establishing his success in the West before redirecting his attention back to Japan. As means of appealing to widespread audiences, the signature elements in Murakami’s work focus on the commercial aspects of Japanese art, namely that of of anime and manga. But while both of these art forms had previously existed in a consumer culture, Murakami elevates his subects. His subjects are both cartoonish kitsch and the grotesque, appearing in their two-dimsensional origins but with Murakami's emphasis of bright color and manipulation of the subject's character.

    The present lot, Untitled, 1997, serves as an early example of Murakami’s “Superflat” work, a term he coined to describe the flat, two-dimensional imagery customary in Japanese art that emphasizes surfaces and flat planes of color. As a term, "superflat" is Murakami's way of marrying high art and the commercialism, as both traditions embrace this particular style; hence, "superflat" is Murakami's great equalizer. Untitled, 1997, also displays similarities to older traditions of Japanese art: the curved lines that form the mad figure are themselves reminiscent of Japanese woodcuts, while the character itself evokes the fantastical creatures that made frequent appearances in the ancient paintings of Japan. But as opposed to the horrifying dragons and mythical beasts that dotted the halls of Medieval palaces, here we find an many-eyed grin that we cannot help but adore. All in all, Murakami has stepped beyond the commercial achievements of a contemporary pop artist and instead found himself at the center of a cross-cultural exchange of artistic values. The present lot is both old and new: a memory of the past, a symbol of the present, and a vision of the future.

  • 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



acrylic on canvas, laid on panel
18 x 14 3/4 in. (45.7 x 37.5 cm.)
Signed and dated "Takashi. '97'" and stamped "DOB, TAKASHI, Made in Japan Takashi Co. Ltd." on the reverse.

$200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for $173,000

Contact Specialist
Amanda Stoffel
Head of Sale
+1 212 940 1261

Contemporary Art Day Sale

New York 17 May 2013 10am