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Takashi Murakami

The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg

Skira Rizzoli Publications, Inc. in association with MCA Chicago and Kaikai Kiki New York, LLC
Hard and softcover



This landmark publication accompanies a major retrospective exhibition of Takashi Murakami’s paintings. Although other volumes on Murakami in English address the crossover between his fine art and commercial output, this book presents the first serious consideration of his work as a painter. It provides a sustained consideration of the artist’s relationship to the tradition of Japanese painting and his facility in straddling high and low, ancient and modern, eastern and western, commercial and high art. Lavishly illustrated with large-scale images of works that span his art student days to now—many reproduced together for the first time—the book contextualizes Murakami’s output in postwar Japan with essays that situate the artist in relation to folklore, traditional Japanese painting Nihonga, the Tokyo art scene in the 1980s and 1990s, and the threat of nuclear annihilation. The volume includes essays by curator Michael Darling, Michael Dylan Foster, Chelsea Foxwell, Reuben Keehan, and Akira Mizuta Lippit, as well as a biography and exhibition history, selected bibliography, and index.

Murakami was born in Tokyo, and studied at Tokyo University of the Arts, Japan, earning a BFA in 1986, an MFA in 1988, and a PhD in 1993. He founded Hiropon factory in Tokyo in 1996, now Kaikai Kiki, an art production and art management corporation, which markets his art and fosters emerging artists. Best known for his commercial ventures, forays into comics and animation, and post-apocalyptic characters, he has also diligently contended with Nihonga. Murakami’s paintings are in private collections and foundations as well as major public collections including the MCA’s own holdings.

Table of Contents

6 Note to the Reader
6 Glossary of Terms
8 Foreword
10 Acknowledgements
21 Doomed to Survive by Michael Darling
39 The Total Work of Art: Takashi Murakami and Nihonga by Chelsea Foxwell
51 Plates I: Early Works
85 The Bubble Goes Pop: Takashi Murakami and the Early Days of Tokyo Neo-Pop by Reuben Keehan
95 Plates II: Superflat
139 Murakami’s Monsters and the Art of Allusion by Michael Dylan Foster
151 Plates III: The Studio
187 Super/Flatline:Takashi Murakami’s Anime/N by Akira Mizuta Lippit
199 Plates IV: Recent Works
227 The Central Dogma of Art by Takashi Murakami
259 Biography, Exhibitions, and Publications
264 Exhibition Checklist
278 Exhibition Lenders and Sponsors
279 Catalogue Contributors
280 Index