If you are a Westerner, two things usually come to mind when Japanese visual art is mentioned: it is either the highly graphical traditional painting style or Japanese animation and comics. But you do not have to be an expert in contemporary Japanese art to have an idea of who Takashi Murakami is. Here are five fascinating facts about the artist who has forever changed the definition of art.
The Genius of Takashi Murakami: 5 Facts About the Legendary Artist
He majored in traditional Japanese art
You most likely know him for his bright colors and cute cartoonish characters, but Takashi Murakami originally comes from a traditional artistic background. In the 1980s, he received a degree in nihonga, an art style that was created in the 19th century and has since become synonymous with Japanese visual arts for a lot of foreigners. His education greatly influenced his future work and gave him a more profound understanding of art.
He created a new art movement
Superflat, the name of the art movement created by Murakami, does not have a strict definition. In general, it refers to the visual aesthetics commonly associated with Japanese post-war culture. Superflat is a critique of the modern mainstream Japanese consumer culture, which values visual appeal above emotional and intellectual depth.
He is inspired by anime and manga
As you probably could have guessed, Takashi Murakami has always loved manga and anime. His body of work reflects these influences and exaggerates the aesthetics that these cultures perpetuate.
He has more fashion brand collaborations than anyone else
Supreme, Louis Vuitton, Uniqlo, Crocs, Vogue, COMME des GARÇONS, and more — all these big fashion industry names have previously put Murakami’s characters on their T-shirts, bags, shoes, magazine covers, and even skateboards. Murakami probably has more collaborations with fashion brands than any other contemporary visual artist. To be fair, his colorful and recognizable designs fit perfectly on luxury clothes.
He is the creator of many iconic characters
Murakami is famous for his iconic characters, with the smiling multi-colored flower being the most popular. Despite its happy facial expression, it represents the repressed suffering and sadness the Japanese people felt after the horrific bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Takashi Murakami’s work has truly surpassed the barriers of high and low art and even mainstream popular culture, creating an entirely new niche of its own. Hiding complex and often unsettling messages behind cheerful visuals, the artist forces us to look deeper beyond the shallow surface.