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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

    Best known for his contemporary combination of fine art and pop culture, Takashi Murakami is one of the most acclaimed postwar Asian artists. Born in 1962, Murakami studied at Tokyo University of the Arts to train as an animator, but ultimately specialized and earned a Ph.D. in Nihonga, the academic style of traditional Japanese painting. Employing a bold graphic style infused with Japanese culture that has become widely recognizable, Murakami rose to fame in the 1990s for coining the term “Superflat.” Relating the flattened space of Japanese graphic art to the conflation of art and commerce in consumer culture, his Superflat theory bore into the eponymous postmodern art movement that has inspired an entire generation of contemporary Japanese artists. Creating supercharged, cartoon-like paintings and sculptures, the artist plays on the familiar aesthetic of anime and manga, rendering works that shatter the visual dichotomies between high and low art. Since 2002, Murakami has done numerous collaborations with various brands and celebrities including Louis Vuitton, Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, and Google.

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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