Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mr. DOB: A Murakami Lithograph Coming in October

Sept. 15, 2009
Written by John Dale

The recent posting of the October 2009 Modern and Contemporary Art Auction had me browsing the lots, and as I was drawing close to the end, I saw a name and broke out into a grin. The name was Takashi Murakami, and his work appears in lot 63117, a lithograph on paper titled And then, and then, and then…Variation 4. Mr. Murakami is famous for his artistic and commercial prowess - to be more specific, his remarkable faculty for managing and merging the two.

Based on my slight [Slight?! Slight?! – Noah] penchant for Japanese popular culture, as previously mentioned in “Thoughts on Assorted Japanese Imports-,” it shouldn’t come as much of a shock that I’m intrigued by Mr. Murakami and his art, which counts Japanese popular culture, particularly the otaku subculture frequently associated with manga and related phenomena, as an important inspiration. The lithograph being offered by Heritage shows that inspiration clearly: the face of Mr. Murakami’s signature character, Mr. DOB (check the ears), dominates the space with his wide eyes and broad grin. The wide eyes in particular are an important part of the manga aesthetic.

Artistic influences such as Pop Art and manga, however, are only part of Mr. Murakami’s appeal. He operates not only in “fine art,” as it is understood in the West, but also in a variety of more commercial fields. His firm Kaikai Kiki, a combination studio and agency representing Mr. Murakami and selected other artists, pursues a variety of merchandising opportunities: “pillows, bags, towels, key chains, sticker sets, and even soccer balls” bearing the designs of Mr. Murakami and other represented artists, according to the site. It’s worth noting that Kaikai Kiki is listed as the publisher of the lithograph in the auction.

Through his strategy of selling products and lending his name and designs to commercially successful projects, Mr. Murakami has continually raised his profile as an artist and the demand for all his work, costly art and inexpensive sticker sets alike. When he collaborated with Louis Vuitton on a line of products bearing his “Multicolore” reinterpretation of the famous LV monogram pattern, both parties benefited. Similarly, his art for a series of Kanye West singles (no VMA jokes here; those are so 48 hours ago) and West’s Graduation album introduced Mr. Murakami to a broad and previously unaware audience.

With an estimate of $1,000 to $1,500, this lithograph makes for a relatively inexpensive introduction to Mr. Murakami’s work. As for myself, well…maybe I’ll settle for a key chain.

To leave a comment click on the title of this post.

-John Dale Beety

No comments:

Post a Comment