MOMA’s “Murakami” exhibit has Los Angeles worshiping at the altar of Superflat. “Murakami” is an irresistibly fun mid career retrospective of Japan’s most visible contemporary artist. Takashi Murakami has gained mass popularity with his trademark Superflat style replica designer handbags and colorful pantheon of cute icons including smiling flowers, jellyfish eyes, and Mr. DOB. Similar to Andy Warhol, Murakami melds consumer culture and fine art with the help of a factory of assistants. “Murakami” innovatively brings the two Discount Replica Louis Vuitton Bags worlds of consumer culture and fine art together by housing a Louis Vuitton boutique (with Murakami designed bags ready for purchase) inside the museum. Art for art’s sake is over. This is art for art’s sale.
So, the question is: do you buy his art?
The artist himself is dubious. Murakami gives an unpretentious tour of his biggest exhibition yet (which you can watch on the MOCA website here) Discount Replica Louis Vuitton Bags , during aaa replica designer handbags which he calls his some of his works (like Second Mission Project Ko2, a female cyborg that transforms into a fighter jet) “a stupid idea.” Of himself, Murakami humbly says, “I am very embarrassing” and recalls the slow growth of his confidence as an artist. Not taking art too seriously has led Murakami to make “cute” anime inspired art. The cute factor has massive appeal, so much so that Murakami has become a brand name celebrity artist. By arranging over ninety works in chronological order, the exhibition tells the story of how Takashi Murakami became Murakami.
Miss Ko2, a leggy waitress inspired by Sailor Moon, beckons you into the world of Murakami. She is part of Murakami’s early, 1990s projects that transform 2 D anime into life size 3 D sculpture. Busty Hiropon and well endowed My Lonesome Cowboy personify the sexually explicit side of Murakami’s “Poku” aesthetic. “Poku” combines pop with otaku to poke fun at the “geek sexuality” of the anime obsessed. Murakami takes already popular forms like anime and manga high quality designer replica handbags dolabuy , and converts subculture into high art.
Milk and Cream, a pair of multiple panel paintings, accompany Hiropon and Cowboy. Each depicts a graceful arc of white fluid against solid pastel pink and green backgrounds. The grand stroke of fluid, be it milk, semen or paint, recalls the paint drippings of abstract expressionist replica louis vuitton bags from china Jackson Pollack. At the same time, the foamy white fluid resembles the crashing waves of Edo era printmaker Hokusai. The influence of woodblock printing and screen painting show Murakami’s training in nihonga, a school that sought to revive traditional Japanese art forms. Murakami remixes modern Western art and traditional Japanese art, while denying the hierarchy of high “art” culture vs. low pop culture.
Murakami’s character Mr. DOB rips off Mickey Mouse with his iconic round ears. Over time, DOB’s eyes Perfect Quality Louis Vuitton Replica and teeth grow larger and his smile more menacing. Eventually DOB’s features get multiplied and abstracted to the point that all we can make out are teeth, eyeballs and distorted D’s and B’s. Murakami plays with the Superflat style by giving DOB the appearance of being flattened out by a rolling pin. DOB’s mutation from cute mouse to bulbous monster is Murakami’s experiment in trademarking. He takes the idea of a mascot logo and runs mad with it. Mickey has made Disney a household name, and Murakami is getting closer to that level of recognition with his own set of smiley faced icons.
The next step is actually starting a corporation. Murakami’s Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. produces T shirts, calendars, plush creatures and other sorts of Japanese kitschware (on view in a separate room). Kaikai and Kiki are the white and pink duo seen above standing atop “flower balls.” They reappear in sculpture, on paintings, and on merchandise. Murakami’s characters translate well across many media, as Murakami has dabbled in film and fashion. At the exhibition you can watch the Kaikai Kiki anime, the music video for Kanye West’s “Good Morning,” and three episodes featuring the life of a boy robot named Inochi. Murakami’s merchandizing of art walks the line between accessible and exclusive. Sure you can buy a LV bag high quality designer replica handbags wholesale designed by Murakami, but it’s a limited edition and you can only get it at MOCA.
Murakami must like big art because he often executes on a monumental scale. His paintings span walls, and his sculptures scrape the gallery replica louis vuitton handbags ceiling. Reversed Double Helix (above left) is replica louis vuitton the most overwhelming of all. Mr. Oval presides from a mound atop a lotus base, from which project four marshmallow bodied creatures. The layout comes from Buddhist sculpture where the seated Buddha is surrounded by four smaller figures at the cardinal directions. The borrowing of Buddhist monuments evokes worship and how art or commodities (“I want that LV bag!”) can be worshipped, fetishized or made sacred in our pursuit of them.
Murakami is a mastermind when it comes to tapping into our consumer desires for cute/scary/just bizarre Japanese culture. And yet there is more than just superficial cuteness at play in his art. Gazing into the blank stares of Murakami’s jellyfish eyes, sometimes they bulge with dilated innocence, other times with rabid possession. There’s something behind the smiling faces of flowers, DOB, KaiKai Kiki et. al. that shows through in the crazy eyes and sharp teeth.
Supernova, a seemingly benign panorama of psychedelic mushrooms, provides a clue to the anxiety belying the compulsion to fake designer bags stamp smiles over every face. One extra large mushroom dominates over the landscape to evoke the mushroom cloud and the dropping of atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Recalling this historical memory of trauma makes the colors appear less lively and more sickly. A lingering sense of postwar high quality designer replica handbags wholesale defeat pervades this work and the Time Bokan series of sketetal portraits.
In his tour, Murakami points out how the skull looks like a mushroom cloud. He cheap replica handbags has made death cute and non threatening by inserting his smiling flowers in the eye sockets. “Smiling is sometimes a hard job,” says Murakami while standing next to the very cheery Kawaii!Vacances d’ (see below). His statement reveals that a smile is not always happy and can be a mask for anxiety. The record breaking attendance at “Murakami” is telling of our own needs to forgo reality and escape into a fantasy world of art, anime and shopping. In other words, Murakami’s popularity is driven by our great need to smile.