August 30 2014

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7 posts tagged "Takashi Murakami"

Takashi Murakami Makes a Monster Fantasy to Fight Social Anxiety



Few living artists hold the level of fame and pop culture permeation as Takashi Murakami. Through his candy-colored, anime, and otaku-inspired smiley faces and other creations, the Tokyo native has explored notions of dystopia and commerce, giving new depth to Pop Art. He’s taken on the role of a sort of Andy Warhol of Japan—blurring lines between pop culture, artist personality, and fine art through curation; the generation of his art production company, Kaikai Kiki Co.; and some memorable collaborations with the likes of Supreme and Louis Vuitton. Now the ever-prolific creator is introducing a new effort: his first feature-length film, Jellyfish Eyes, the first of a trilogy.

The live-action/animated movie tells the story of an adolescent boy who moves to a new town in the aftermath of Fukushima to start a fresh life. Once there, he quickly discovers a new friend—a magical, monster-like companion that he soon finds is one of many in the area. A darker purpose for these creatures is later uncovered, leading to chaos and plenty of apocalyptic monster references—all in classic Murakami style, of course.

We recently sat down with the artist and his translator at his longtime gallery, Blum & Poe, to discuss the origins of the project, the direction of his art, and what to expect in the future.

I wanted to ask about the origins of the film.
The reason I came into the visual art world is because originally I was really influenced by Japanese animation—you know, to draw something and then make that into film. So I was moved by the results and I wanted to move other people. In reality, I have been making short animations in the past; there were many short animation pieces that I was trying to work on. And those were fine, those were possible. But in terms of feature-length film, you need a grammar for storytelling and you need to understand how to construct a narrative, and that’s been a very difficult thing for me. So for a long time, I’ve been attempting to do this, but I haven’t been very successful. And when the earthquake and all those disasters happened in 2011, Japan started to be filled with this social anxiety and the general atmosphere of worries, and that situation seemed to become very similar with my childhood in the 1970s. In the early 1970s, there were a lot of Kenshoo monster movies and the Ultraman series and Godzilla. Those emerged and became popular in that context of social anxiety. Because the social situation now has become similar to that, I felt that I could make a film with the monsters in it in a similar way. So because of this incident, the story now has a more reality grasp. In general, I wanted to portray the relationship between this Japan filled with social anxiety and the children.


It’s such a dark story—was it immediate that you saw it as being told through children’s eyes and as a picture that children could watch and enjoy?
So, in Japan the film wasn’t really a hit at all, but I’m going to try to [get] it more exposure, and as the children watch it more, I believe that it will be enjoyed by children truly. Currently the situation in Japan is that the area that includes Tokyo and the metropolitan area, including Fukushima, is of course under the influence of the radiation. Different parts of Tokyo are highly affected by radiation, and that’s a reality every day. For example, when you think about sushi, it’s always been that the best thing would be to have freshly caught fish of the season from Tokyo Bay and that you eat that as a sushi and that’s the best thing to do, but of course people who are more informed don’t feel like eating sushi anymore. And yeah, there are a lot of cheap sushi restaurants springing up, and because it’s affordable, people are kind of ignoring what they know and eating the sushi maybe. But the families that go to these cheap sushi restaurants and eat at them will probably say, “Ooh, is it really safe? Can we really eat them?” So that will come up in everyday conversation. Then children will have more additional trainings for disaster at school—what to do in emergencies and stuff like that. And of course in the news, the relationship between China and Japan is very fragile right now and there is a danger of war—that’s been talked about in the news and everyday life. So Fukushima is still a problem that is not resolved. You have to worry about food everyday. Just going to school and coming back, there are more restrictions and rules. So in everyday life for children, there is general anxiety. My film actually contains that social anxiety, so they feel when they watch it, “OK, I can trust this film.” And even though it’s a fantasy, the experience is more like they’re entering into the familiar—their daily life—and they can believe in it.

Do you feel like your work is getting more political with this film?
First and foremost my ambition as an artist and the most important question for me is what is art, and when you pursue that question, you come to, what kind of people love art? So I got really interested in the reality of people’s everyday living environment, and of course I have a question: What are you going to do, making all these new nuclear power plants and increasing and selling them? What good does it do? But beyond that, I don’t really have a strong political, activist motivation. It’s more that when I make my work, I’m looking for stories that can be true to the audience. Whether it’s a visual or a narrative, I’m looking for something that I can communicate with the audience. So I draw a lot of different things from reality, and in this situation, it just happens to be something very political because that’s what we can share right now. In the recent past, I’ve explored the themes of capitalism and greed and how they relate to each other, and at the moment now because of this disaster, I’m very interested in nature and natural disaster and the mechanism of how religion might emerge in this kind of situation and the relationship between humans and natural disaster. Not in the sense of “OK, nature is great,” but more in the sense of “How do we deal with them? How do we try to heal through them?”

So I hear there are two more films coming. What can we expect for parts two and three?
So in part two, there is the fictionalized version of Fukushima. In this fictionalized city, after the disaster, international money comes in to create a new power plant to create an entire new type of energy. So it’s kind of Japan being used by international money. In part two, children with certain motivation all gather in the city and things happen and they try to escape as well. In part three, I’m trying to really explore the relationship with the United States and Japan. In Japan, it seems like since the war, Japan has been the puppet and it still continues to be the puppet, and that’s the reality. I’m exploring how these people are trying to swallow that as a reality and cope with that and how we might share that reality with children.

Photos: Courtesy Photos

Takashi Murakami’s California Dreams


Takashi Murakami has had a big week in L.A. On Tuesday, the artist premiered Jellyfish Eyes—his first live-action-meets-CGI feature film—at MOCA. And last night, he bowed an exhibition of new paintings and sculpture at Blum & Poe. Built on the ideas he presented for Ego, his 2012 exhibit in Qatar, the show—titled Arhat—includes scaled paintings, wall-mounted sculptures, and steel sculptures that combine his signature slick pop with newer self-referential themes. “Before, I saw how consumers know Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons, and I worked in the same place,” Murakami said of his previous collections. But it was the 2011 tsunami that deeply affected his work—and ultimately elicited a shift. “I totally stepped back from the mainstream and really was focusing personally and on identity.”

Guests such as Co’s Stephanie Danan and Justin Kern, Benedikt Taschen, and Eva and Michael Chow toasted the artist’s sixth solo exhibition with the gallery—and his first major presentation in the U.S. in over four years. Peter Pilotto, in town for the British Fashion Council’s London Show Rooms, expressed a particularly keen appreciation for the artist’s creations. “It’s all about craft; we always look super closely at the techniques and how he does it,” he said, marveling at the intense, intricate artistry in each piece. And as a fellow lover of graphic prints, one might say he and Murakami are kindred spirits. “When you see those paintings, you really have to get into them. There is so much information—I really analyze it.”

Arhat runs from April 13 through May 25 at Blum & Poe, 2727 South La Cienega Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90034, 310-836-2062.

Photos: Stefanie Keenan/ Getty Images

Gucci And Scorsese Take On Cannes, Gaga In Black, Louboutin’s Glass Slippers, And More…


Gucci and Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation are set to unveil a new version of Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America at the Cannes Film Festival next month, toasted with a dinner and party at the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc thrown by Gucci creative director Frida Giannini, Vanity Fair editor in chief Graydon Carter, and PPR chairman and chief executive officer François-Henri Pinault. [WWD]

Lady Gaga has reportedly joined the cast of Men in Black 3, alongside Tim Burton and Justin Bieber. The film’s director, Barry Sonnenfeld, has “confirmed that she will appear on an alien surveillance board,” but it is not yet known whether she will act as herself or play a character—though the difference between those two, one imagines, would be slight. [Vogue U.K.]

In celebration of the re-release of the Disney classic Cinderella this fall, Christian Louboutin is designing his own version of a glass slipper, to debut this summer. “I have been so lucky to have crossed paths with Cinderella, an icon who is so emblematic to the shoe world as well as the dream world,” says Louboutin. [WWD]

Japanese artist and Marc Jacobs collaborator Takashi Murakami will open a new branch of his company, Kaikai Kiki, complete with a gallery in Germany tomorrow, coinciding with Berlin Gallery Weekend. The new outpost, named Hidari Zingaro Berlin, is Murakami’s first exhibition space outside of Japan. [Art Info]

Photo: Courtesy Photo

Where Marc Jacobs And Louis Vuitton Meet


This year, Marc Jacobs celebrates 15 years as the creative director of Louis Vuitton. And today in Paris, Louis Vuitton—Marc Jacobs, a comprehensive exhibition that explores two innovators and their roles in Vuitton’s 143-year history, opens to the public at the Louvre’s Musée des Arts Décoratifs. (If you can’t make it to Paris before the September 16 closing date, Rizzoli’s accompanying tome, with historical and critical essays by curator Pamela Golbin and Jo-Ann Furniss, a look back through the collections organized by Jacobs and Katie Grand, and more, arrives in April; it can be preordered here.)

“When we were talking through the project, what came out was we really wanted to portray Louis almost like a black and white picture, whereas Marc is like a Technicolor film,” said curator Pamela Golbin, a celebrated author, fashion historian, and the Chief Curator of Fashion and Textiles at Les Arts Décoratifs. The exhibition is divided between a historical view of founder Louis Vuitton himself and a contemporary view of Jacobs’ creation of the house’s ready-to-wear, which he founded in 1997 and has stewarded since. Here, talks to Golbin about creating the exhibition and the history of the influential house.

What does this exhibition say about the development of Marc’s career at Vuitton?

First of all, what’s so interesting about this exhibition is that it follows two men, so it’s about Louis and he has a whole floor, and then also a second floor is dedicated to Marc. When it came to Marc, it was important for him to be very involved in the project. I did not want this to be a retrospective; it’s more a celebration of what Marc has done in the last 15 years at Vuitton. And it’s incredible that it has already been 15 years. The exhibition is more about the vision that he created for the brand than anything else. And that vision is quite large. It’s not just about designing clothes. Obviously accessories are important, but so is advertising, his artistic collaborations, and just his overall cultural vision. So Marc’s floor begins with Marc’s World. We essentially opened up his head and we did a self-portrait of Marc through all of the cultural influences that he’s had and that he uses for his design process. So it’s like a giant Tumblr page with still images and video images of everything and anything that has influenced him over the years. It’s not at all chronological. It’s thematic. And he even came up with the titles for each of the cases.

Why did you want to steer away from doing a retrospective?
The idea was by no means to say, “OK, in 1997 he did this and he did that.” His story is not chronological. His story is really about an energy and an attitude. He turned Louis Vuitton from a brand into a house. And so what we tried to get across were the steps that he took to get there and important moments. And more importantly, just really his fashion vision for Louis Vuitton that, when he arrived, was already 143 years old. He really created a fashion entity within a luxury brand. Continue Reading “Where Marc Jacobs And Louis Vuitton Meet” »

The New Face Of Brit Pop


For her upcoming issue of Pop, Dasha Zhukova scored a big get: Twitter queen (and occasional singer) Britney Spears, who appears on multiple covers of the magazine. Todd Cole shot Brit-Brit for the glossy, and Takashi Murakami gave her the full kawaii Japanimation treatment. (We hear cartoon stickers will also appear throughout the mag.) Why Spears? “She’s feminine, sassy, strong-willed, determined: all the things a great Pop icon should be,” Zhukova told us from Moscow. “Couple that with some Japanese swimsuits and a Rodarte wedding gown and I think she is pretty much Pop personified!” Apparently the idea arose when Zhukova was discussing the idea of manga characters with Murakami—and voila, a cover star is born. The mag will be out September 1—it also includes a collaboration with Cindy Sherman, who reinterprets the Chanel woman, an interview with Hillary Clinton by Barbara Bush (!), and stories on Barbara Kruger, MNDR, and Martha Stewart (!!)—and we’ve got your exclusive first look at two of the covers, above.

Photos: Todd Cole/Courtesy of Pop