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Due to the redesign of Guggenheim.org, past exhibitions prior to 2008 are archived externally; visiting these pages will open a new window.


Takashi Murakami, Initiate the speed of cerebral synapse at free will, 2008

Takashi Murakami, Initiate the speed of cerebral synapse at free will, 2008. Acrylic and platinum leaf on canvas mounted on wood panel/signage in gold leaf and platinum leaf, 180 x 213.2 cm. Allison and Warren Kanders. © 2008 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All rights reserved


February 17–May 31, 2009

Born in Tokyo in 1962, Takashi Murakami is one of the most influential artists to come out of Japan in recent decades. Formally trained in nihonga, a painting style focuses on traditional Japanese techniques and subject matter, and earning a Ph.D. from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in 1993, Murakami emerged out of Japan's Neo-Pop generation after the collapse of Japan's economy in the late 1980s. Although the artist has consistently incorporated contemporary Japanese popular culture in the forms of anime (animation) and manga (comic books) into his work, he has also continued to draw on traditional Japanese sources ranging from Buddhist imagery, 12th-century picture scrolls and Zen painting, and compositional techniques from 18th-century Edo eccentric painting.

Forging a new reciprocal relationship between high art and mass culture, Murakami's artistic practice is predicated on seeing art as a part of the economy and the artist is significant for carving out a new entrepreneurial model based on a transformation of applied market strategies. This model can be attributed to the global shift from a consumer-based society to a service-oriented economy, which differentiates Murakami from Andy Warhol and his contemporaries Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons. In addition to creating artworks, Murakami has made a constellation of ancillary activities integral to his practice, taking on the roles of curator, lecturer, event coordinator, radio host, newspaper columnist, and manager of emerging artists. His international corporation Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd., with its multifaceted operations in mass-produced merchandising, animated-film production, corporate design commissions, including his renowned collaboration with Louis Vuitton, reveals his aim to creatively widen art's distributive capacities.

© MURAKAMI is the most comprehensive retrospective of his work to date. Organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, it features more than 90 artworks in various media, including painting, sculpture, installation, and film, that track the ongoing evolution of Murakami's anime alter ego, DOB, his sculptural projects of the late 1990s that were inspired by figurines popular among otaku (fans of anime and manga), as well as an archive of licensed Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. merchandise.

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