Inspiration: Takashi Murakami – Superflat!

As I mentioned in the Master animation Research class last Thursday, the artist who inspires me when it comes to minimalistic graphic art is the infamous Japanese artist: Takashi Murakami. In succession of the great conceptual Pop-artists of the 60’s, like Andy Warhol, Murakami seeks to use commerce to critisize the established and to bring his art to the masses.

Murakami is known for his use of cute or kawaii characters which have been simplified to ‘Superflat’.

“Superflat is used by Murakami to refer to various flattened forms in Japanese graphic art, animation, pop culture and fine arts, as well as the “shallow emptiness of Japanese consumer culture.” A self-proclaimed art movement, it was a successful piece of niche marketing, a branded art phenomenon designed for Western audiences.

Murakami defines Superflat in broad terms, so the subject matter is very diverse. Often the works take a critical look at the consumerism and sexual fetishism that is prevalent in post-war Japanese culture.” –

“Flat, colorful and rootless, the images of this popular subculture – the blank-faced Hello Kitty, the mutant monster Godzilla, the giant alien Ultraman, the cat-shaped guardian robot Doraemon — line up in no particular order, like icons on a computer screen. This cavalcade of weightless images in turn reverberates with contemporary viewers worldwide: anime and manga have become global signifiers of cool. Historically, to be sure, Japan is unique. Until a century and a half ago it was a society shut off from most of the world, and then, with gigantic gulps, it absorbed and adapted whatever it wanted, mostly from Europe, in an accelerated binge. The orgy ended with the catastrophe of World War II, after which Japan once again slammed the door on the past and started fresh with new, mostly American models. The grab-bag appropriation, inexact simulation and accelerated speed that characterize this process no longer appear peculiarly Japanese. They feel now. We live in an age when distinctions are arbitrary, originality is devalued, hierarchies are discredited and authenticity seems meaningless. Barely 40 years ago, Pop artists like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein caused a transgressive stir by adopting commercial imagery from newspaper advertisements and comic strips as the subjects of paintings to hang in art galleries. How daring that was, and how dated it is. We are surrounded today by too many images to source or rank. While it would be fatuous to say that we are all Japanese now, we are surely all living in Murakami’s world.”

“He admires the naked transparency of these artists’ cashing in on their reputations to make money. ”My concept is, anytime we do the honest thing, we get the win,” Murakami said. ”People find it very difficult to find their honest desire. Andy Warhol did that. I love his diary: pay the driver two weeks, the coffee is too sweet, the weather is cold. It’s a life. Warhol is a master artist for me because he was a really honest person.””

From the article “The Murakami Method” by Arthur Lubow, NY Times


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