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Art Index: Takashi Murakami

“Manga uses Japanese traditional structures in how to teach the student and to transmit a very direct message. You learn from the teacher by watching from behind his back. The whole teacher-master thing is part of Asian culture, I think.”

- Takashi Murakami

Takashi Murakami, 2011, “End of Line” © Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved


Takashi Murakami (村上 隆, Murakami Takashi, born February 1, 1962) is a Japanese contemporary artist. He works in fine arts media (such as painting and sculpture) as well as commercial media (such as fashion, merchandise, and animation) and is known for blurring the line between high and low arts. He coined the term "superflat", which describes both the aesthetic characteristics of the Japanese artistic tradition and the nature of postwar Japanese culture and society, and is also used for Murakami's artistic style and other Japanese artists he has influenced.

Born in Tokyo in 1962, he was a fan of anime and manga (Japanese comics), and hoped to work in the animation industry. He attended Tokyo University of the Arts to acquire the drafting skills necessary to become an animator, but eventually majored in Nihonga, the 'traditional' style of Japanese painting that incorporates traditional Japanese artistic conventions, techniques and subjects. He earned his master's degree in 1988. Though he would go on to earn a Ph.D. in Nihonga (1993), he gradually became disillusioned with its insular, highly political world and started to explore more contemporary artistic styles, media, and strategies. (Takashi Murakami - Wikipedia)

Takashi Murakami quickly moved away from traditional Japanese art and shifted his interest towards the Otaku culture (manga fans ready to cut themselves off from the world to satisfy their passion). Mixing the spirit of Japanese manga with the American Pop Art aesthetic, Murakami explores the encounters and contradictions of Poku, a style whose name comes from the union of Pop and Otaku.

After a stay in New York in the mid-1990s, he returns to Japan where he founds the Hiropon Factory, a factory inspired by Warhol.

In 1999 he holds an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco and in 2001 at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Dob In Pure White Robe (Pink & Blue), 2013 © Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved

In the same year, at the MOCA in Los Angeles, Murakami curates Superflat, a world touring exposition in several editions, promoting the work of 19 Japanese artists.

Superflat is seen as Murakami's programmatic and aesthetic manifesto.

The theory posits that there is a legacy of flat, 2-dimensional imagery from Japanese art history in manga and anime. This style differentiates itself from the western approach in its emphasis on surface and use of flat planes of color. Superflat also served as a commentary on postwar Japanese society in which, Murakami argues, differences in social class and popular taste have 'flattened,' producing a culture with little distinction between 'high' and 'low'.

From then on, Murakami begins to systematically promote the value of autonomous Japanese art, void of Western influences, capable of expressing the cultural reality of the new Japan. During 2001 the Hiropon Factory becomes Kaikai Kiki, a company and a collective of artists, whose objectives are the production, promotion, and support of emerging Japanese artists.

In 2002 he exhibited at the Cartier Foundation in Paris, and the following year again at the Venice Biennale.

In 2003 Murakami collaborates with Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton in creating the Cherry Blossom bag and redesigning the company logo in manga style.

The bag, which sold for $5,000, was a huge success. In June of the same year, François Pinault, the owner of Christie's, bought his Tongari Kun fiberglass sculpture for about 1.5 million dollars.

In 2007 he designed the cover of the album Graduation by Kanye West and on October 29, 2007, the MOCA in Los Angeles inaugurated the first major retrospective exhibition on the artist. The exhibition set-up in the museum also includes a shop that displays and sells Murakami's consumer items, including bags made for Louis Vuitton. In 2008 the exhibition was presented at the Brooklyn Museum in New York and subsequently at the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt. In 2009 the exhibition reaches the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.

Homage To Francis Bacon (Study For Head Of Isabel Rawsthorne And Georges Dyer) (Gold, Left Panel) © Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved

In May 2008, the My Lonesome Cowboy sculpture was sold at a Sotheby's auction for $15.2 million. In the same year, the Oval Buddha sculpture was exhibited at the IBM Building in New York. In April 2009, in collaboration with the creatives of the SET agency, the artist created a Design QR for Louis Vuitton, a type of QR code formed by the image of one of his characters and by the colored pattern of Louis Vuitton. The code was readable by mobile phones and directed to a page on the Japanese Louis Vuitton mobile website that promotes the products resulting from the collaboration with the artist. It is the first time that Takashi Murakami engages in an interactive project.

In 2010, the artist's first major French retrospective was hosted at Versailles.

As of now the artist continues to collaborate with artist and musicians on various projects, recently joining hands with Billie Eilish, Virgil Abloh, Louis Vuitton, Supreme, and Tekashi 6ix9ine.


Takashi Murakami Photo: Chika Okazumi

According to Takashi Murakami’s turnover in 2020 is $11,140,088.

Best-selling artist on the planet between 2000 and 2020 (more than 5,500 lots sold at auction), Murakami is both highly rated and accessible, thanks to his editing work. His market rocketed to a peak in 2008 with the sale of My Lonesome cowboy (Sotheby’s), a 2.5-meter sculpture depicting the triumphant ejaculation of a manga-version satyr. The work hit the headlines, selling for $15m.

On November 11, 2003, ARTnews described Murakami's work as being in great demand.

Hiropon (1997), a life-sized, satirical sculpture of an anime character with gigantic lactating breasts whose milk stream forms a jump rope made of fiberglass, sold for $427,500 at Christie's auction house in May 2002.

Miss ko2 (1996), a 6-foot-tall model of an anime-inspired blonde girl in a red and white maid outfit, was sold for $567,500 in 2003, and was put up for auction in 2010, where it sold for 22.9 million HKD.

In May 2008, My Lonesome Cowboy (1998), an anime-inspired sculpture of a masturbating boy whose semen stream forms a lasso, sold for $15.2 million at Sotheby's. Murakami's current net-worth is estimated to be around US $100 million, and the value of his works continue to rise in today's market.

Distribution by price (by Artprice)

There are multiple artworks by Takashi Murakami that are currently listed in upcoming public auctions.

Some of them include:

© Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved

Circus: Embrace Peace and Darkness within Thy Heart/Skulls & Flowers Multicolor/Zero-One (2013-2016)


68.9 x 53cm

Estimate: $2,287 - $3,202

18 Mar 2021

Mallet Japan Inc.

© Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved

Enso: Exponentially Expanding Universe (2015)


141 x 120cm

Estimate: $166,243 - $249,364

25 Mar 2021


"There are doors everywhere"/"On an Endless Journey on a Time Machine with the Author Fujiko F. Fujio!"/"Wouldn't It Be Nice If We Could Do Such a Thing"


Estimate: $1,830 - $2,745

26 Mar 2021

Mainichi Auction Inc.


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