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Hype Museum?

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Takeshi Murakami, known as the "Andy Warhol of Japan," creates his quirky, one-of-a-kind figures and artwork by drawing inspiration from traditional Japanese painting. Murakami blurs the barriers between high art and low culture, East and West, the past and present by using both conventional media, like as painting and sculpture, as well as commercial media, including fashion and animation.

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When Murakami was 10 years old, he fell into a pit and broke his skull, which led to the start of his artistic career. He slipped behind in school and was unable to apply to universities since he was unable to leave his bed. Anime, manga, and other international animated films would later become essential to his approach; at the time, he had his sights set on making a profession in the entertainment industry and becoming an animator.

Murakami received his BA, MFA, and PhD at the Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music, where he initially studied "Nihonga" (traditionalist Japanese painting). Although he first disliked Nihonga, it would later become as important to his work as the idea of a "otaku"—a young person who is fixated on a particular aspect of popular culture. After seeing an exhibition of Shinro Ohtake's Neo-Expressionist artwork in 1987, which was devoid of the politics and conflict essential to Nihonga, he first broke away from traditional Nihonga.

After completing his Nihonga studies, Murakami held his first solo exhibition at Tokyo's Ginza Surugadai Gallery in 1989, just around the time he started traveling to and from New York. His rise to fame coincided with both the late 1980s Japanese economic crisis and the Nipponese Neo-pop movement, which may both be clearly mirrored in the 'pop' aspects and materialist emphasis of his works.

At this stage in his career, Mr. DOB first appeared as a DNA helix in ZaZaZaZaZa (1994), then underwent a number of changes before turning into a monster representation of society's addiction to consumerism in Tan Tan Bo Vomiting (2002).

Murakami developed his own POKU style (a mashup of the words "pop" and "otaku") throughout the late 1990s, resulting in such works as Miss Ko2 (1997) and Hiropon (1997). These paintings serve as illustrations of how his work started to deal with more explicit material in conjunction with themes from popular culture.

Murakami's most famous character, his alter ego Mr. DOB, was created within the environment and aesthetic of bright, colorful materialism. The character was created when Murakami's acquaintance purchased an Apple computer and was given the shortened translation of the Japanese word for "why." Murakami and a friend worked digitally until Mr. DOB was created because they intended to develop a line that couldn't be replicated by hand. Mr. DOB has assumed several guises throughout the years, but is best famous for being a charming 'kawaii' character.

At the Parco Gallery in Tokyo in 2000, Murakami organized a display of Japanese art titled Superflat. Murakami quickly adapted the moniker to represent his own work. The show addressed the shift toward mass-produced entertainment and its effects on modern aesthetics. While also portraying a greater trend toward the two-dimensional, particularly in consumerist advertising and mass media, superflat aims to blur the lines between popular art and fine art.

The creation narrative for Mr. DOB is where Murakami's desire to remove the artist's hand is most evident, although this desire is present throughout the entirety of his creative process. His studio, Kaikai Kiki, which translates as "something both lovely and weird," is located in the industrial district of Miyoshi outside of Tokyo. A group of nearly 100 technicians, each of whom completed rigorous training as a precondition, are there with Murakami. To work with Murakami, technicians must be able to paint the ideal mushroom, which serves as their final test.

Murakami defends a collaborative approach in art-making, comparing it to film productions and referencing the methods of artists like Michelangelo, despite criticism for using a factory of specialists to make his works. The back of each of Murakami's works gives credit to the technicians who are essential to his method.

Murakami's methodical approach to art encourages precision, which is never more apparent than in his screen prints. Murakami's screen prints are typically 3 mm deep in order to give the paint the proper depth and texture. Then, technicians use a Q-tip to wipe away any smudges from each print; for Murakami, the aim is immaculate precision.

The success of Murakami’s work has led to many international exhibitions and high-profile partnerships. Not only has he caught the attention of collectors like Kanye West, but Murakami’s success led to collaborations with Pharrell Williams, Virgil Abloh, and Louis Vuitton.

Murakami directed a feature-length film entitled Jellyfish Eyes (2013), turned his hand to directing music videos, and printed his well-known motifs onto his own merchandise. But, while his work feeds into the world of celebrity and branding, it also appeals in a more critical, traditional sense, with work displayed at the Perrotin and Gagosian galleries, as well as places of huge cultural significance, such as the Palace of Versailles.

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