Today is the 51st birthday of Takashi Murakami, the Japanese contemporary artist and founder of Kaikai Kiki Co, Ltd. In case you aren't familiar with his work, the "Japanese Andy Warhol" is famous for coining the term "Superflat" to describe Japanese pop-driven post-war art, and his paintings and sculptures sell for millions at auction.

takashi murakami birthday


Murakami was born in Tokyo in 1962, and became an early manga fan. At school, he became immersed in the traditional style of Nihonga, a subject he later studied in his Ph.D. program before losing interest in the strict conventions associated with the craft. It was at this point that the artist became dedicated to contemporary art, throwing Western appropriations to the wind in his efforts to create a new art market in his home country.

After a stay in New York, the artist returned to Tokyo to launch the Hiropon Factory (Kaikai Kiki's Japanese hub), outlining his aims in a landmark essay titled "Superflat." Later on, he expanded his empire by collaborating with Marc Jacobs, and even provided cover art for Kanye West's album, "Graduation." Commenting on his varied career decisions, Murakami stated in a 2007 interview with Blouin Artinfo:

"Japanese people accept that art and commerce will be blended; and in fact, they are surprised by the rigid and pretentious Western hierarchy of 'high art.' In the West, it certainly is dangerous to blend the two because people will throw all sorts of stones. But that’s okay — I’m ready with my hard hat."

Scroll through a slideshow of Murakami's works below and let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

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  • Installation View of Murakami Ego Photo by Chika Okazumi Takashi Murakami's "Ego" Exhibition At Al Riwaq Exhibition Hall In Doha, Qatar

  • Artist Takashi Murakami poses next to his artwork 'Giant Magical Princess! She's Walking Down The Streets of Akihabara!' (2009), during a press preview of the exhibition Pop Life: Art in a Material World, at Tate Modern in London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday September 29, 2009. The exhibition examines the ways in which artists have built up personae and brands for themselves since the 1980's. Watch for PA story ARTS Pop. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire

  • The sculpture 'Oval Buddha Silver' of Japanese artist Takashi Murakami is seen during the opening of the 39th edition of Art Basel on June 3, 2008 in Basle, Switzerland. The Art Basel kicks off with a vernissage for invited guests on June June 3 and is open to the general public from June 4 through June 8. With more than 300 participing main leading galleries the Art Basel is seen as one of the most important art shows worldwide. (Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images)

  • A picture taken on September 9, 2010 at the Palace of Versailles shows 'Le Salon de Venus' (Venus Lounge), a sculpture by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. The exhibition, running from September 12 to December 12, will be Murakami's first major retrospective in France, and he comes after American Jeff Koons at the palace in 2008 and Frenchman Xavier Veilhan last year. Murakami, who was born in Tokyo in 1962, will display his sculptures and paintings in 15 rooms in the palace's Hall of Mirrors and the apartments of the King and the Queen. (PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Tate Dougherty, Director for Contemporary Art at Bonhams displays 'Jellyfish Eyes' by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, in Hollywood, California, on May 1, 2009. The painting, estimated USD 150,000 to 200,000, will be on auction on May 4, at Bonhams and Butterfields (GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A picture taken on September 9, 2010 at the Palace of Versailles shows 'Miss Ko', a sculpture by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. The exhibition, running from September 12 to December 12, will be Murakami's first major retrospective in France, and he comes after American Jeff Koons at the palace in 2008 and Frenchman Xavier Veilhan last year. Murakami, who was born in Tokyo in 1962, will display his sculptures and paintings in 15 rooms in the palace's Hall of Mirrors and the apartments of the King and the Queen. (PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Installation View of Murakami Ego Photo by Chika Okazumi Takashi Murakami's "Ego" Exhibition At Al Riwaq Exhibition Hall In Doha, Qatar

  • Installation View of Murakami Ego Photo by Chika Okazumi Takashi Murakami's "Ego" Exhibition At Al Riwaq Exhibition Hall In Doha, Qatar

  • Japanese artist Takashi Murakami shows off his work at the the 'Louis Vuitton: A Passion for Creation' (Fondation Louis Vuitton pour la Création) art exhibition in Hong Kong on May 21, 2009. The Hong Kong Museum of Art is hosting an exhibition of a selection of works from the Fondation Louis Vuitton pour la Création from May 22 to August 9, 2009. (MIKE CLARKE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A picture taken on September 9, 2010 at the Palace of Versailles shows 'Pom & Me', a sculpture by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. The exhibition, running from September 12 to December 12, will be Murakami's first major retrospective in France, and he comes after American Jeff Koons at the palace in 2008 and Frenchman Xavier Veilhan last year. Murakami, who was born in Tokyo in 1962, will display his sculptures and paintings in 15 rooms in the palace's Hall of Mirrors and the apartments of the King and the Queen. (PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Japanese artist Takashi Murakami stands beside his work of art entitled' Hiropon 1997' during the press view of the 'Pop Life, Art In A Material World' exhibition at the Tate Modern, in London, on September 29, 2009. The exhibition will run from October 1 to January 17, 2010. (BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Japanese artist Takashi Murakami shows o

    Japanese artist Takashi Murakami shows off his work at the the 'Louis Vuitton: A Passion for Creation' (Fondation Louis Vuitton pour la Création) art exhibition in Hong Kong on May 21, 2009. The Hong Kong Museum of Art is hosting an exhibition of a selection of works from the Fondation Louis Vuitton pour la Création from May 22 to August 9, 2009. (MIKE CLARKE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A picture taken on September 9, 2010 at the Palace of Versailles shows 'Flower Matango' a sculpture by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. The exhibition, running from September 12 to December 12, will be Murakami's first major retrospective in France, and he comes after American Jeff Koons at the palace in 2008 and Frenchman Xavier Veilhan last year. Murakami, who was born in Tokyo in 1962, will display his sculptures and paintings in 15 rooms in the palace's Hall of Mirrors and the apartments of the King and the Queen. (PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Visitors look at 'Hiropan, Milk' by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami exhibited at the Punta della Dogana in Venice, on August 28, 2010. 375 000 people visited the Punta della Dogana, presenting the contemporary art collection of French billionaire Francois Pinault, since its opening a year ago. (VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A picture taken on September 9, 2010 at the Palace of Versailles shows 'Jellfish Eyes', a sculpture by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. The exhibition, running from September 12 to December 12, will be Murakami's first major retrospective in France, and he comes after American Jeff Koons at the palace in 2008 and Frenchman Xavier Veilhan last year. Murakami, who was born in Tokyo in 1962, will display his sculptures and paintings in 15 rooms in the palace's Hall of Mirrors and the apartments of the King and the Queen. (PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Japanese artist Takashi Murakami poses in front of his piece of art, 'Oval Buddha Gold' (2007-2010), on September 9, 2010 at the Palace of Versailles, outside Paris. The exhibition, running from September 12 to December 12, will be Murakami's first major retrospective in France, and he comes after American Jeff Koons at the palace in 2008 and Frenchman Xavier Veilhan last year. Murakami, who was born in Tokyo in 1962, will display his sculptures and paintings in 15 rooms in the palace's Hall of Mirrors and the apartments of the King and the Queen. (PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A picture taken on September 9, 2010 at the Palace of Versailles shows the sculpture 'tongari-kun' by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. The exhibition, running from September 12 to December 12, will be Murakami's first major retrospective in France, and he comes after American Jeff Koons at the palace in 2008 and Frenchman Xavier Veilhan last year. Murakami, who was born in Tokyo in 1962, will display his sculptures and paintings in 15 rooms in the palace's Hall of Mirrors and the apartments of the King and the Queen. (PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A man takes a photo of a sculpture by Takashi Murakami during the media preview at the 2012 Armory Show, one of the world's top art events featuring the most influential artworks of the 20th and 21st centuries, at Pier 92 and 94 in New York March 7, 2012. The Armory Show opens its fourteenth edition on March 8 and will run through March 11, 2012. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Tongari-Kun Photo by Guillaume Ziccarelli Takashi Murakami's "Ego" Exhibition At Al Riwaq Exhibition Hall In Doha, Qatar

  • Installation View of Murakami Ego Photo by Chika Okazumi Takashi Murakami's "Ego" Exhibition At Al Riwaq Exhibition Hall In Doha, Qatar

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