Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Takashi Murakami's Smog of Luxury

Photographs by fashionartedit

Takashi Murakami's Smog of Luxury. R.C. Baker. Village Voice. 04.15.08.
excerpted text:

"When he was a child, Takashi Murakami's mother used to tell him: 'Takashi, you are very lucky. If Kokura had not been cloudy, you wouldn't be here today.' On August 9, 1945, she'd been a kid herself, living in the city that the U.S. had targeted for its second atomic-bomb attack on Japan. Because of bad weather, she and thousands of others were spared, and Nagasaki, with a small patch of blue in its overcast skies, was incinerated instead. Fate doesn't get much more capricious than that. Perhaps Murakami, a globe-trotting artist, curator, and theorist, feels he's been living on borrowed time since before he was born, in 1962. This might explain his varied (at times, frenzied) output of paintings, sculptures, animation, and luxury goods, all on view in this Brooklyn Museum retrospective."

"Having sold miniature versions of his sculptures as "snack toys," Murakami has bested even Warhol in the ancillary-merch sweepstakes—which brings us to the Louis Vuitton shop, installed as part of the show, blunt as a torpedo amidships. After taking in the chromatic amplitude and rarefied surfaces of the sculptures and paintings, the 'Jellyfish Eye'–patterned bags and white-clad salesfolk feel beside the point, but these ostentatious items may actually be the heart of the show. As Scott Rothkopf's fascinating catalog essay points out, Murakami's career is a veritable case study of art-world conflicts of interest, because "his activities as a curator and critic function as a shrewd marketing device. By framing and advancing a new 'movement' of sorts, he has gained for his cohorts significant traction in both foreign intellectual and commercial markets." For example, Murakami curated the hugely successful 'Little Boy' show at the Japan Society in 2005, presenting himself and the artists he represents through his company, KaiKai Kiki, as exemplars of a new Japanese avant-garde. He then convinced Yale to publish a catalog laden with his own essays. So peddling exclusive accessories becomes just another tentacle in Murakami's evolving marketing organism. Andy must be bowing his head in admiration."

"As with Warhol, the best stuff here is surprising, gorgeously executed, and darkly alluring. The 11-foot-square canvas The World of Sphere (2003) features more chirpy flowers and the usual bulbous creatures, one with hula-hoop halos spinning like centrifuges around its pointy head. A miasma of Louis Vuitton logos rises like swamp gas in the background, a smog of luxury." 

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