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

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris

  • Exhibited

    NewYork, Marianne Boesky Gallery, Takashi Murakami: Superflat Monogram, April 11 – May 10, 2003 (another example exhibited)

  • Literature

    P. Mattick, Takashi Murakami at Marianne Boesky, Art in America, January 2004; P. Schimmel, ©MURAKAMI, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los angeles, Germany, 2007 (another example illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    In Japan there are neither traditional-oriented old people adhering to transcendental values, nor inner-oriented adults who have internalized their values; instead, the nearly purely relative (or relativistic) competition exhibited by other-oriented children provides the powerful driving force of capitalism. Let’s call this infantile capitalism.                                                                                                    Takashi Murakami.
    Within his careerTakashi Murakami has moved seamlessly among a multitude of roles such as artist, curator, theorist, product designer, businessman and celebrity. More than anyone else, he has put modern Japan on the map of the contemporary art world. His oeuvre is highly diversified and crosses the boundaries between fine art and commercialism. He has executed large scale commissioned projects for NewYork’s Rockefeller Plaza and Grand Central Station and currently has a major retrospective at the MOCA in Los Angeles which will travel the world. Like his illustrious predecessor, AndyWarhol, and also like his venerated contemporaries, Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons,Takahashi Murakami is an artist who recognizes the cultural importance of the Fine Arts and the techniques involved in their production and also is acutely aware of the consumer driven market that is dictated by popular culture and the mass media.
    Not only by its sheer size and presence but also by its beauty, the present lot, Panda, is a striking sculptural work of art. Standing at over 2.5 metres, it is comprised of a fiberglass panda, executed in the artist’s typical superflat style with green and violet cherry blossoms ears and Murakami’s signature eyeballs, perched atop a vintage Louis Vuitton trunk.With its wide opened bright eyes looking up towards the sky and its gawping mouth, Murakami’s panda looks as though it is about to take flight.The panda seems almost alive and in motion, one just waits for it to blink.The sculpture must be viewed in the round for the viewer to truly take in its awesome power and beauty. Standing in front of the undeniably cute and bubbly sculpture, the viewer cannot help but be transported back to a child like fantasy world filled with innocence and bright colours.Yet despite all its decorative charm, Panda bears a disturbing dark side.The massive sculpture hovers above the viewer as if frighteningly suspended in mid air. In an animated cartoon advertisement for Louis Vuitton, Murakami’s panda swallows a young girl in front a Louis Vuitton store. Her initial fright is turned into joy as she falls into a fantasy wonderland full of beautifully animated swirls of colour. She is ultimately spewed back out and shares a loving glance with the lovable monster.
    Panda is a unique work which was executed for Murakami’s 2003 solo exhibition at NewYork’s Marianne Boesky gallery.The phenomenal sculpture was the central totem of the show entitled Superflat Monogram in which every exhibited artwork was influenced by Murakami’s collaboration with Louis Vuitton and its famed designer Marc Jacobs. In 2002-2003 Marc Jacobs was in the midst of designing a collection for Louis Vuitton with the idea in mind of remaining true to the nature of the company’s monogram but at the same time updating it’s look and keeping it contemporary with the times. Subsequently Jacobs made the decision to inviteTakahashi Murakami to re-work the Louis Vuitton monogram and update it in a way that he knew only Murakami could.The result of this partnership was remarkable and still today proves to be a resounding success for both the designer and the artist. A Louis Vuitton store has opened within Los Angeles’ MOCA where Murakami’s retrospective is currently being held.
    ‘I invitedTakashi Murakami, a wonderful, wonderful artist, to come and collaborate with us. Re-studying the classic Louis Vuitton monogram, which up until now existed in one color, brown and gold. And now it exists in 33 colors on white and black… it’s really something quite explosive’ (Marc Jacobs onTakashi Murakami from the Louis Vuitton website)
    The influence for Murakami’s fantastical Panda is Mickey Mouse. In fact, Murakami has been fascinated with theWalt Disney icon since the 90s when he created his first cartoon avatar, Mr. DOB. In Panda, Murakami takes the transformation of Mickey Mouse a step further by fusing the famous cartoon character with another world famous symbol, the panda. In the exhibition catalogue for Murakami’s current retrospective, art historian Dick Hebdige writes of Panda:
    ‘In Panda (2003), the makeover is complete: “Mickey” (by this point the androgyny inherent in “his” moniker has been fully hyper-realized) perches en pointe (without his trademark boots, or even feet to put inside them) on an antique Louis Vuitton trunk.The ears are fiberglass balloons decorated with Murakami’s signature floral motif, the body a Fabergé egg over-easy. As if in homage to his Master-Maker, the arms consist of a single stubby fiberglass pencil sharpened at both ends (the viewer’s eye is drawn, as it were, to the [non-existent] hands). Panda-Mickey’s eyes are elongated at the edges, the mouth pulled open in a grin to expose a single bisected front tooth- the classic Nipponese overbite- though in this case the foregrounded molars are a shocking pink, as if coated in lipstick (and indeed, when seen from a distance, the entire embouchure looks for all the world like a cosmetically enhanced, pumped up pair of lips). Mickey, metaphorically outsourced to China (for which the panda is synecdoche), no doubt for the sake of cost-cutting, has been hijacked for “Japan” (and Louis Vuitton).’          (Dick Hebdige, © Murakami, Los Angeles, 2007, p. 35)

  • 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



Fiberglass with antique LouisVuitton trunk and wooden pedestal.
255.3 x 165.1 x 109.2cm. (100 1/2 x 65 x 43 in).
this work is unique from a series of 3.

£400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for £1,364,500

KYOBAI, Japanese Art and Culture

3 Apr 2008, 6pm