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

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  • Provenance

    Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    Takashi Murakami is one of the most prominent Japanese artists today. He is often compared to AndyWarhol as he not only appropriates pop-culture references, but creates images that become popular icons.The present lot uses one of the artist’s noted motifs – the multi-eyed mushroom.These candy-coloured creatures, covered in a psychedelic flow of cartoon eyes and dripping shiny swirls are fun, inviting and child-like while still carrying potentially darker connotations.
    These funny new fungal characters, Murakami explains, were in part inspired by the mushroom towel designs of Taisho-era artist Takahisaa Yumeji, who sought to find a balance between fine and applied, or popular, arts, and “used the mushroom as a cute motif that appealed to feminine taste.” Other crossover referential implications include their phallic shape, their propensity to propagate quickly, Alice in Wonderland, and the hallucinogenic properties of certain species. The atomic mushroom cloud, an image Murakami blew up to monumental mural scale in Time Bokan, 1993, marks another mushroom metaphor that plays off of the seeming cuteness of those he has produced here. These are not ordinary mushrooms. Under their colourful caps, the gills of the fungus have been transformed into horrific, razor-sharp teeth suggesting a surrealistic vagina dentata of Pablo Picasso’s most aggressive portraits. Covered with eyes, they become all seeing. D. Friis-Hansen, Takashi Murakami: The Meaning of the Nonsense of the Meaning, NewYork, 1999

  • 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.

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Kinoko Isu


Fiberglass, steel and urethane paint.

40.6 x 292.1 x 88.9 cm. (16 x 115 x 35 in).

Number two from an edition of three plus two artist's proofs.

£500,000 - 500,000 

Sold for £288,500

KYOBAI, Japanese Art and Culture

3 Apr 2008, 6pm