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Takashi
Murakami

Takashi Murakami is an international staple of contemporary art and culture, from his noteworthy alter-ego Mr. DOB to his inimitable Flowers that make him synonymous with all things bright and kitsch. If you are looking to buy or sell a Murakami original print or edition, browse artwork available from our network and enquire to speak to the team. We offer free and confidential valuations and market advice on any Murakami print, with zero obligation to sell.

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Biography

Dubbed the ‘Andy Warhol of Japan’, Neo-Pop Art luminary Takashi Murakami draws from traditional Japanese painting to create his unique, kitschy characters and works. Working in traditional media, like painting and sculpture, as well as commercial media, including fashion and animation, Murakami has a history of blurring the lines between high and commercial art, East and West, past and present.

Murakami's biography follows in the footsteps of a traditional Japanese upbringing and shaped the distinctively Japanese nature of his art. Interested since a young age in becoming an animator, Murakami brought his passions into his art. Manga, anime, international animated film and otaku culture became central to his work and led him to develop his 'superflat' aesthetic. Emblematic of Murakami's work, the term superflat was coined by Murakami to refer to the flattened quality of Japanese visual culture which his works embrace, as well as to describe his attempt to blur the boundaries between popular art and high art.

Murakami's Characters and Collaborations

Since his beginnings in Japan, Murakami’s cute characters have taken over the global art market. His trademark characters are undoubtedly his Mr. DOB and his smiling flowers. Created within the context and aesthetic of glaring, colourful consumerism, Mr. DOB is Murakami’s alter ego as well as an iconic example of a Takashi Murakami artwork at play. Over the years, Mr. DOB has taken many forms but is mostly recognised as a cute ‘kawaii’ character. Together with Mr. DOB, Murakami’s predilection for cartoons is evident in his appropriation of the flower motif. Recast as emoji-like characters with smiling faces, Murakami’s Flowers made their first appearance in 1995, and have since populated the colourful universe of the artist.

Known for his celebration of the commercial nature of his art, Murakami has also not been a stranger to the market, where his works fetch sky-rocketing prices. For instance, in 2018 his six foot Dragon in Clouds - Red Mutation, executed as part of a challenge by his professor, Nobuo Tsuji, fetched over ¥55.8 million (£6.4 million) at Council auction house in Shanghai.

The success of Murakami’s work has led to many international exhibitions and high-profile partnerships. Not only has he caught the attention of collectors like Kanye West, but Murakami’s success led to collaborations with Pharrell Williams, Virgil Abloh, and Louis Vuitton. While nearly everything about Murakami’s artwork feeds into the world of celebrity and branding, it also appeals in a more critical and traditional sense, with works displayed at Perrotin and Gagosian, and Versailles.

My Lonesome Cowboy by Takashi Murakami

image © Sotheby's / My Lonesome Cowboy © Takashi Murakami 1998

1. £7.8M for Takashi Murakami's My Lonesome Cowboy

“The title comes from an Andy Warhol film called Lonesome Cowboys. The work shows someone masturbating and smiling. It doesn’t have a meaning,” Murakami has said of My Lonesome Cowboy. Despite the artist’s claims, My Lonesome Cowboy and its companion sculpture Hiroponare two significant works in Murakami’s “body fluids” period and seen as his early attempt to represent manga (Japanese comics) and otaku (nerd) culture using Western fine art techniques.

The important piece achieved US$15.1 million against an estimate of US$3-4 million when it was offered at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction in New York on 14 May 2008, and remains the most expensive work by Murakami at auction today.

Dragon In Clouds - Red Mutation by Takashi Murakami

Dragon In Clouds - Red Mutation © Takashi Murakami 2010

2. £6.4M for Takashi Murakami's Dragon In Clouds - Red Mutation

At nearly sixty foot and produced in just 24 hours, Dragon in Clouds - Red Mutation is one of three large-scale depictions of the Japanese dragon by Takashi Murakami. Departing from the artist's usual multicoloured palette, this work draws upon traditional Japanese painting and is produced entirely in shades of red. In April 2018, the work fetched over ¥55.8 million (£6.4 million) at Council auction house in Shanghai, making it the second most expensive work by Murakami sold at auction to date.

Red Demon And Blue Demon With 48 Arhats by Takashi Murakami

image © Phillips / Red Demon And Blue Demon With 48 Arhats © Takashi Murakami 2013

3. £4.4M for Takashi Murakami's Red Demon And Blue Demon

Created in 2013, Takashi Murakami's Red Demon and Blue Demon with 48 Arhats is a salient example of the artist’s unique fusion of Buddhist imagery, Edo period printmaking and contemporary kawaii culture. This graphic work that features Murakami’s highly recognisable superflat style and bright colours, sold at Phillips for over US$6 million (£4.4 million) in June 2021, superseding its upper estimate of US$4.5 million.

Miss KO² by Takashi Murakami

image © Phillips / Miss KO² © Takashi Murakami 1997