Takashi Murakami, Invoking the Vitality of a Universe Beyond Imagination, 2014, mixed media, 32 5/16 × 78 3/4 × 37 inches (82 × 200 × 94 cm) © 2014 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
A lightning rod of cultural dichotomies, Takashi Murakami believes the artist to be one who perceives and limns the borders between worlds. Combining refined classical painting techniques with a supercharged mix of Pop, animé, and otaku imagery in his distinctive “Superflat” style, Murakami moves freely within an ever-expanding field of aesthetic issues and cultural inspirations. Parallel to the dystopian themes which pervade his work, he recollects and revitalizes traditional narratives of transcendence and enlightenment. Mining religious and secular subjects favored by the so-called Japanese “eccentrics”—non-conformist artists of the Early Modern era widely regarded as counterparts of the Western Romantic tradition—Murakami situates himself within their legacy of bold and lively individualism in a manner that is entirely his own and of his time.
Takashi Murakami was born in 1962 in Tokyo, Japan. He studied at Tokyo University of the Arts, Japan, (formerly Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music), where he received his B.F.A. in 1986, M.F.A. in 1988, and P.h.D. in 1993. He founded the Hiropon factory in Tokyo in 1996, which later evolved into Kaikai Kiki, an art production and art management corporation. In addition to the production and marketing of Murakami's art and related work, Kaikai Kiki functions as a supportive environment for the fostering of emerging artists. Murakami’s work has been featured in many solo and group exhibitions worldwide, including “Made in Japan,” Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2001); “Summon monsters? Open the door? Heal? Or die?,” Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2001); “Kaikai Kiki: Takashi Murakami,” Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, Paris (2002; traveled to Serpentine Gallery, London); “© MURAKAMI,” Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2007; traveled to Brooklyn Museum, New York; Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt; and Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao through 2009); “Takashi Murakami Versailles,” Château de Versailles, France (2010); “Murakami-Ego,” Qatar Museum Authority, Doha (2012); “Arhat Cycle,” Palazzo Reale, Milan (2014); “Murakami: The 500 Arhats,” Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2015); “Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg,” Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2017); and “Murakami by Murakami,” Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo (2017).
As a curator, cultural entrepreneur, and critical observer of contemporary Japanese society, Murakami organized “SUPERFLAT” in 2000—a paradigmatic exhibition of Japanese art which served to trace the origins of contemporary Japanese visual pop culture. He continued this work through the subsequent exhibitions “Coloriage,” Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, Paris (2002); and “Little Boy: The Art of Japan's Exploding Subcultures,” Japan Society, New York (2005). In 2011, Murakami organized the “New Day: Artists for Japan” international charity auction at Christie’s New York in response to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.
Murakami currently lives and works in Tokyo and New York City.