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.
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.