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Takashi Murakami's Influence on Art Culture

October 28, 2019 18:21

The works of Japanese artist Takashi Murakami have inspired both admiration and confusion.

Inspired primarily by anime and manga, Murakami’s paintings and sculptures feature bright, candy-colored images of cartoon-like characters, with large eyes and exaggerated body parts.

His works are often decorated with smiling flowers, round, blinking eyes and colorful mushrooms. Breaking down numerous barriers, his creations defy traditional classifications. 

Murakami blurs the line between so-called high art, which is mostly seen in museums and galleries and “low” art, like that seen in cartoons and advertisements. 

These days Murakami employs a large staff of assistants who help him with his ideas and designs. Some of his works are extremely high priced creations intended for a gallery or art collectors, but he also mass produces merchandise, such as mugs, keychains, and T-shirts, which feature the characters he has created.

Born in Tokyo, Japan in 1962, Murakami grew up in a household that placed a high value on art. Japanese culture informed Murakami’s outlook but he was also exposed to some aspects of American life and popular US culture during a time when his father worked at an American naval base. 

“Only recently I realize how much I’ve been influenced by Steven Spielberg,” Murakami told Interview magazine in 2001. “In his films, there is a tension between the children’s world and the adult’s world”. Murakami’s captures that exact tension with his cartoon-like images, sometimes displaying a dark and slightly creepy undertone.

In Japan, kawaii (Japanese for cute) has proven to be extremely popular, particularly with children and young adults. "There's a cute culture in Japan that everyone knows about," Murakami said of his art. "But without digging deeper, it's hard to understand. It's like Pop Art -- if you can't understand the consumer culture in America, you can't understand it." (maybe you can inert this quote here too) Japanese characters such as Pokémon and Hello Kitty are used to sell tremendous amounts of merchandise. The devotion to anime and manga and collecting related merchandise is shared by a large community of fans referred to as Otaku. That term, in combination with “pop”, for pop art, has resulted in a new term, “Poku”, which could be used perfectly to describe Murakami’s recognizable artworks.

Murakami’s best-known character is known as Mr. DOB, a mouselike creature with a round head and large circular ears. Mr. DOB has appeared in numerous artworks as well as on merchandise, such as mousepads, postcards, and T-shirts.

Takashi Murakami and Mr. DOB (Source: Hypebeast)

While Murakami established himself in the closer art circles in Japan and the United States by the beginning of the twenty-first century, it was his successful handbag design for Louis Vuitton in 2003 that made him a celebrity. He immediately gained rockstar like status, especially in Japan. Created in collaboration with then Creative Director Marc Jacobs, Murakami’s designs reinvigorated the stately luxury goods company, making Louis Vuitton bags the hot new must-have item for the wealthy and fashionable.

Pop artists are inspired by popular culture, choosing subjects from sources such as cartoons, billboard advertisements and consumer goods. Murakami who is often classified as a pop artist has achieved what only a few artists can: Earning the respect of many international artists  while also becoming hugely popular with the general public.

„We want to see the newest things.

That is because we want to see the future, even if only momentarily.

It is the moment in which, even if we don't completely understand what we have glimpsed,

we are nonetheless touched by it. This is what we have come to call ART.“

- Takashi Murakami

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The employees in the boutiques, in the design studio and in the backstage area at fashion shows wear white lab coats, as was common in the ateliers of the great couturiers, e.g. Christian Dior, and is still common today. The fashion shows for the high-priced fashion sometimes took place in the context of the Paris Prêt-à-porter shows in unconventional locations, up to shabby surroundings (construction site, metro station, dining room of the Salvation Army etc.). The boutiques are kept in plain white and gray. Margiela originally selected unspectacular locations such as a residential area in Tokyo and did not publish the addresses of the boutiques in order to require the customer to make an effort to find the store at all. The first Margiela store opened in Tokyo in 2000 and the first European boutique was inaugurated in Brussels in 2002. In 2008, a boutique opened in a basement on the edge of Munich's Maximilianstrasse. This was followed by participation in numerous exhibitions, including "Radical Fashion", which was shown in 2001 at the V&A Museum in London. In 2010 there were 36 own stores worldwide.  In 2015 there were over 50 stores worldwide, including boutiques, that only carry the MM6 collection.

The company followed a very restrictive communication policy. The designer can neither be photographed nor interviewed. Only his creations should speak for themselves and the designs should be perceived as the overall performance of the team. That's why the team always shows up in white doctor's coats after the fashion shows - nobody should stand out.

By recycling old fashion, separating, recoloring, reversing seams and zippers, both the origin and the artificial of the art of tailoring are shown. Margiela puts together what doesn't belong together: by hand, jeans turn into skirts, old army socks become pullovers. Baptized by the press as deconstructivism, this current is defined by an abrupt collision of different materials, which at first glance appear inharmonic in the sense of conventional viewing habits. Margiela herself rejects the term "deconstructivism". He resurrected clothes in a new form, he told ELLE in 1991.

Margiela was the unofficial 7th member of "Antwerp 6", a generation of fashion designers who all completed their training at the Royal Academy of Arts between 1980-1981 and shaped the "style of the Belgians". However, it does not belong to the actual group, but it became known in a similar period.

The Japanese "Street Magazine" dedicated two special editions to "Maison Martin Margiela", which were published in book form in 1999. Nicolas Ghesquière (Balenciaga) is a big fan of Maison Martin Margiela.

In July 2014, fashion critic Suzy Menkes exposed Matthieu Blazy via Instagram as Head of Design, after which he deleted his Instagram account and changed his profile in a career network. He left the company on October 1, 2014.

To this day, Margiela pieces, especially in the fashion industry and all fashion lovers, belong to the sanctuaries in every repertoire and archive. Getting vintage pieces from other designers may be possible, but Maison Martin Marginal Archives are a real hunt and that says it all about this art.