History of Takashi Murakami
Takashi Murakami is one of the prolific contemporary artists in Japan who started his career in art as a traditionalist in his twenties. He was born in the year 1963 in the city of Tokyo. Takashi Murakami works in fine arts media including painting and also in commercial media. Takashi attained his first degree in fine arts and also music in the prestigious Tokyo national university. For his doctorate degree, Murakami concentrated on nihonga which is a mixture of the eastern styles and western styles of the 19th century. However, as anime and manga styles of animation as well as comic graphic stories in Japan become more and more popular, Takashi was disillusioned in regard to Nihonga. He took to otaku culture especially because he felt that it was representing the daily and contemporary life in Japan. This change from nihonga to otaku led to the formation of superflat style which was entirely founded by Takashi. This style originated form poku which was a combination of otaku and pop.
According to murakami, he decided to include the poku culture since he believed that otaku and animation could lead to the emergence of a new culture in Japan which could rejuvenate the contemporary art scene in Japan. The main challenge of murakami and other artists in Japan is lack of sustainable and a reliable market and also the fact that Japanese art is held lowly not only in Japan but also in most parts of the world. To make art more popular and accepted, Takashi decided to make art in most of the non fine media arts. He then focused on ensure there was a sustainable market for arts and as a result, he began to promote his work overseas first where market was more responsive. This overseas promotion by Takashi led to the foundation of the kaikai kiki company. Takashi murakami is rated among the most influential persons in the art scene (MetroArtWork, n. d).
Takashi is today one of the most celebrated artists in Asia and his style as stated above expresses the modern popular culture of the Japanese. He also reflects in his artistic work the otaku subculture which is a typified lifestyle of the Japanese characterized by an obsessive need or interest to collect anime and manga. This subculture otaku expresses the desperation of some Japanese group of people who avoids facing the reality of life and instead they seek their refuge and consolation in the world of fantasies of comics. Takashi murakami artistic work exposes the psychological and mental state of this society which unconsciously overcame the trauma of the Second World War, the bursting of the economic bubble of Japan and the effects of bombs and who later develops a dark and mystical childish side. In his work, Takashi represents the scientific, fantastic and metaphoric spirituality used by the society hides itself which is characterized by duality of darkness versus light, good and evil and perversity and naivety (Cohen, n. d).
Apart from basing his work on anime and manga, Takashi has also based his artwork on the traditional Japanese painting. As mentioned above, in the earlier years of his artistic work, Takashi concentrated more on Nihonga which is a style of painting which emerged in the 19th century in Japan. This style is usually a fusion of traditional work and the western art. Nihonga is also influenced by the American pop art as well as the American artists such as Koons and Warhol.
Most of the artist today from both Japan and America has taken after Takashi’s work with most of them fabricating his work. Takashi is an inspirational artist who has contributed greatly not only to the art industry with his work but he has also helped most artists especially from Japan to get established in this industry. Also, Takashi has also made art more acceptable in Japan than it was when he entered the art scene. By the time when Takashi got involved fully in art work, art was not highly regarded in Japan and most artists were just taking art as a hobby and not a commercial activity. Also, Japanese art work was lowly regarded by the western culture. However, this has changed and much of the progress can be directly attributed to Takashi and other earlier artists who came before him (Rubinstein, 2001).
The KaiKai Kiki Company
The Kaikai Company became registered in the year 2001 although its conceptualization was in the year 1996. In the year 1996, Takashi founded a factory by the name of hiropon where he had assistants who helped in producing some of his work. This factory grew and became fully professionalized production studio for art. It was later transformed and registered in the year 2001 under the name of Kaikai Company. It has today expanded and it operates in New York, long island city and Japan. This company has employed more than 100 people and it produces GEISAI and art fair two times in a year. Despite the fact that Takashi owns up the company, he does not always sculpt or even paint most of his finished works. His main roles at kaikai kiki is to formulate or come up with ideas and also to supervise all production processes in the company while his subordinate does the real job at the company. The company produces artwork mostly for museum and galleries exhibition and also designs range of enormous products which are produced in masses all of which features a murakami’s signature images which are push toys, key chains, vinyl figurines, t-shirts, and posters among others. Kaikai Kiki Company also acts as an organization for artist management and it is credited for creation of markets for Japanese arts both domestically and internationally. Takashi is also involved in helping artists who exhibit their arts internationally (MetroArtWork, n. d).
Artwork of Takashi Murakami
As noted above, the style of Takashi is called Superflat which is characterized by graphic images coined from amine and manga styles and also flat color planes. Superflat is a style in art which comments on the consumerism, the otaku lifestyle, sexual fetishism and other subcultures in existence in Japan. Murakami’s art is different which is mainly because of the production method he employs and also the fact that his products or his work in not concentrated in a single store but in different stores with products ranging from candy aisles, toy stores, comic book stores among others. His style of art is a combination of Roy Lichtenstein predecessors of Takashi and western artists and other Japanese predecessors. Also in his style is the contemporary manga and anime. Murakami has marketed his work to the western culture and also in Japan through the GEISAI and also kaikai Kiki Company. The sculptures, balloons and paintings of Takashi are usually attractive and colorful and they are also accessible to lovers of cartoons (Cohen, n. d).
Each and every artistic work is influenced by certain factors which are mainly based on the message an artist wants to pass across or communicate. Different artistic works are mainly determined by different cultures and subcultures in operation in an area. Art is a way of expressing one’s feelings concerning different issues which affects the community as well as a nation. While for some artists art is a hobby, others use it for commercial purposes, that is, to make or earn a living. However, some people use art to help in revolutionizing a community and/ or a nation. Just like many artist, Takashi’s artistic work has been greatly influenced by the Japanese culture as well as the western culture from where he operates. Initially, he was using art for commercial purposes but with time, this gradually changed and he focused his attention on the daily lives of the Japanese people whom according to Takashi had given up hope of a better future. The different cultural events held by the Japanese people who are “outcasts” in the society formed his main basis of his work. Murakami argues that during the otaku festival for example, the occasion is characterized individuals who are disregarded in the society like the obese people, the sick and maimed. However, there are pretty young people whom the media focuses on while reporting the occasion. The lowly regarded people as per Takashi aim at becoming like the models and other highly regarded individuals. To convey this message to the world concerning the injustices practiced in Japan, Takashi uses his artistic work which he says acts as a consolation to the less privileged (MetroArtWork, n. d).
The artistic works of murakami have been greatly influenced by both the western culture and to a great extent by the Japanese culture. The deep understanding that takashi has on the western culture have enabled him to integrate into the structure of his work and come up with or portray the Japanese culture with an aim of revolutionizing the world of art. In his work, murakami looks at the past as well as the present, the popular culture and the high art with an aim of bringing out the best of art work.
Japan for a long time had a culture that art was only meant to be for fun or as a hobby and as such, it was not highly regarded in the country. This factor pushed Takashi to look for better market for his art in the western countries more so the United States. Ever since he established himself in the art industry, Takashi continually supported young and upcoming artists from Japan and those entering the international art market. Also, when he was starting off in his career in Japan, it was widely believed in this country that art was just but a hobby and thus artists were not being taken too seriously by the citizens. To change this culture, Takashi decided to ensure that he succeeded in this field and he also sought to change this kind of believes. This made Takashi to leave Japan to look for areas where art was more appreciated. Through his artwork, Takashi has managed to convince Japanese that art is not only a hobby but can also be used for commercial purposes as well as for conveying emotions and the feelings of an individual. This has been possible through the various shows that Takashi and his colleagues have put up in Japan thus encouraging all young artists to engage in serious art work (Rubinstein, 2001).
American culture and also the western cultures have greatly influenced the art work of Takashi especially due to the technological advancement in the country in the art industry as well as the acceptability of artistic work in these countries. Emergence of super flat culture which is the main style of Takashi art work was as a result of the fusion of computing and art. The technological advancement in this region and the acceptability of art as a profession or a career rather than a hobby influenced the direction of Takashi’s work. Also, the popular American animation culture as well as American fashion influenced the artwork of to Takashi. According to Takashi, the American animation culture represents the contemporary events taking place in Japan. Some of the American culture which has greatly influenced Takashi’s work includes sculpture, installation, painting and animation (Cohen, n. d).
Japanese animations as well as comic books have also had a great impact on murakami’s art work. Most of his work has both of these two aspects which are used to convey his feelings about the state of affairs in Japan. The inflatable sculptures and also the paintings which are intensely colored reveals the great influence the comic books and Japanese animations have had on Takashi’s work. The history and culture of Japan after the Second World War has also influenced Takashi’s art work. During the post war era in Japan, a popular culture emerged which was a blend of anime and manga. This has formed or has influenced most of Takashi’s art work and it is evident on almost all of his work.
Fashion has also had a great influence on the work of Takashi. The Japanese and the eastern culture regarding fashion as well as the western culture of fashion have been of great influence to the work of Takashi. In Takashi’s work, fashion is well blended which almost covers the anime and manga influences on the work. Takashi makes all sorts of fashionable items which range from handbags which suits the fashion industry to t-shirts and caps. These items are made according to the culture and the trends in fashions in an area where a factory is. Fashion has really boosted the work of Takashi both in the eastern and western cultures (Rubinstein, 2001).
Art is mostly used to convey a message as well as for commercial purposes. It has become the best way to pass on information regarding people’s practices both the desirable and the undesirable in a more acceptable manner. Like all other artists, Takashi has used art to depict the daily lives of the marginalized Japanese society and the kind of hopelessness which is experienced by such communities. He also has contributed greatly to the acceptance of Japanese art both within the country and in the western countries. His work is also greatly influenced by the western culture where he established himself in the initial stages thus making his work a blend of the western and eastern cultures. Apart from being an artist, Takashi has also played the role of a promoter for upcoming artists of Japan and has even aided them to enter into the international art market. Takashi Murakami is an artist in the modern world who is most celebrated in the whole of Asia and who has contributed greatly in the growth and revolution in the art industry both in the eastern and western cultures.
Cohen, S. (n. d): Takashi Murakami: Emerging from desire. Retrieved on 30th April 2009 from,
MetroArtWork (n. d): Takashi Murakami Biography. Retrieved on 30th April 2009 from,
Rubinstein, R. (2001): In the Realm of the Superflat – exhibition of Takashi Murakami’s sculptures Art in America. Retrieved on 30th April 2009 from,