Friday, April 25, 2008

Infantile Capitalism

Photographs by fashionartedit

Infantile Captalism. The Economist. April 19-25, 2008. 
excerpted text:

"At the centre of Takashi Murakami's new exhibition is a shop. Even Andy Warhol never went that far

"Among the many rooms that make up this grand retrospective of the work of Takashi Murakami, Japan's best-known contemporary artist, one is especially provocative. It is not the gallery with the wide-eyed cartoon-like figures in bizarrely erotic poses. Nor is it the atrium, with its towering sculpture of a colourfully grotesque, pointy-headed alien, surrounded by adorable marshmallow-like sentries. The biggest buzz is about the space right in the centre of the Brooklyn Museum's 18,500 square-foot (1,700 square-metre) show: a fully operational Louis Vuitton shop, where visitors can buy their very own luxury handbag covered in Mr Murakami's playful designs for upwards of $650." 

"This approach to art is particularly Japanese, argues Mr Murakami. Discriminating between fine art and popular merchandise, or individual genius and learned craft, is a Western preoccupation. Trained in traditional Japanese art, Mr Murakami coined the term 'Superflat' for his theory about the similarities between the formal, decorative flatness of Japanese painting and the shallow, glossed fantasies of popular Japanese cartoons. It also recognises the lack of distinction between high and low in Japanese art. To others his art is known as the school of 'infantile capitalism'."

"Having it both ways is typical of Mr Murakami, who has managed to create an intellectual framework that lets him do and sell whatever he wants. Perhaps the best thing you can say about it is that his unbridled embrace of commercialism seems more honest than cynical."

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