Takashi Murakami - KYOBAI, Japanese Art and Culture London Wednesday, April 2, 2008 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo

  • Catalogue Essay

    Moving towards a conceptually oriented practice, Murakami began using
    plastic World War II toy soldiers to explore his personal history – specifically,
    his connection to the complex relationship between Japan and the United
    States that emerged in the aftermath of World War II. Polyrhythm introduced
    some of the key features of the artist’s subsequent oeuvre; its title was derived
    from a magazine interview with David Byrne, who embraced polyrhythm
    during the 1980s and discussed the music made by a particular African tribe
    during war time. An ensuing mental game led Murakami to use the word for
    his work’s title: “It’s certainly true that both in the movies and in reality
    heroic music is important for war, there is a tie between war and heroism…
    war is actually a tragedy, but if you change your mindset, it’s exotic.
    Our society’s paradox is that we create plastic toy models that create
    a background for aggression and murder.”
    Prompted by friend and mentor Masato Nakamura, Murakami began to
    question many of the realities he had grown up with. As he later recalled,
    “I felt that I had to understand the relationship between Japan and the
    U.S. The reason being that growing up swimming in images of the Vietnam
    War and World War II on television, I felt confronted by the question: the
    con-tradictions in this world are a reality, but if we flip them around, perhaps
    they can become functional?’ So I began using plastic World War II toy
    soldiers in my work.” For Polyrhythm, he affixed scores of plastic 1/34 scale
    U.S. Infantry models (West European Theatre) made by the popular Japanese
    toy company Tamiya to a tall slab of made of synthetic resin that evokes a
    Minimalist object by Donald Judd. The theatricality of this object covered with
    an army of toy soldiers was also inspired by the fact that “we use horrible,
    non-recyclable material, which essentially becomes oversized garbage when
    you work with it to make our ‘dream’ discos, Disney Land, and theme parks.
    P. Schimmel, ‘Making Murakami’, in ‘© MURAKAMI’, Los Angeles,
    2007, pp. 59-60

  • 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





Synthetic resin, stainless steel andTamiya plastic models.

120 x 180 x 12.5 cm. (47 1/4 x 70 7/8 x 4 7/8 in).
Signed ‘Takashi ’90’ on steel frame affixed to the reverse.

£60,000 - 80,000 

Sold for £78,500

KYOBAI, Japanese Art and Culture

3 Apr 2008, 6pm