Published on March 26th, 2012 | by Aeris0
TAKASHI MURAKAMI: “LOW” ART FOR THE HIGH LIFE
Takashi Murakami is a Japanese pop artist. Inspired by cartoons, advertising, Japanese animation (anime), and Japanese comics (manga), Murakami’s imaginative sculptures and paintings feature candy-coloured images and exaggerated joy — from decorated smiling flowers, to blinking ‘jellyfish’ eyes, to his own world-famous ‘Mr. DOB’, a curious, mouse-like creature, with large round ears and eyes.
He has been criticised for producing art that is appealing to the eye, but lacking in substance. However, he also makes ordinary consumers think twice about a mere advertisement, cartoon or logo in defying traditional classifications between what critics regard as “high” art — as accepted by most museums and galleries — and “low” art within everyday objects, such as cartoons. Arguably, with more ‘art’ in advertising, products may be rated by consumers on their inventiveness, not merely their name.
Murakami also challenges the stereotype of an isolated artist toiling away in a studio. He employs a large team to help produce his original designs. They are sold to galleries and collectors from New York to London; to luxury brands seeking a more fun, quirky image such as Louis Vuitton; and in merchandise, from mugs to key-chains. His balance between ‘exclusivity’ and ‘accessibility’ has earned Murakami both respect among the global art elite and huge commercial success with mainstream consumers.
As Murakami put it in 2001: “Within the art scheme, one’s work must have a critical component to be popular. The general public, however, is attracted to very silly paintings. I don’t see why contemporary works have to appeal to one audience or another.”
Images courtesy of Fabrik Gallery