Playful pop artist Murakami shows deeper side in MCA show
That kind of sensory deluge is what visitors replica louis vuitton bags to “Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg” can expect from this signature exhibition of the Chicago museum in its 50th anniversary year. The mostly painting retrospective, opening Tuesday, displays massive, and massively detailed, canvases and argues for a fuller interpretation of Murakami’s often overtly pop, commercial creations.
“Total visual overload. You have the paper and the painting: What’s more important?” said Michael Darling, the museum’s chief curator and the exhibition’s curator. “Like Doris Salcedo, Jeff Koons, Kerry James Marshall, he’s one of those people that’s in that pantheon, and yet I felt that he was misunderstood. There was more depth to the work 1:1 replica handbags , more seriousness to the work, than people give him credit for.”
A detail from “PO+KU Surrealism (Green),” on display in the new Takashi Murakami exhibit, “The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg,” at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. (Erin Hooley / Chicago Tribune)
The MCA was able to attract Murakami because he and Darling have worked together since a 2001 Murakami show, at Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art, that Darling curated.
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“When I first started working with Michael, artists who would put aaa replica designer handbags together the elements of subculture and the serious contemporary art, even though there’s been Warhol and other artists doing it, a lot of people thought of it as not serious enough or they just didn’t like them,” the 55 year old artist said during an April visit to the museum to help install the almost cheap louis vuitton bags from china uk 12,000 square foot exhibition and plan new, monumental works that he has created especially for the show’s final gallery. “Michael was one of the very few curators who were very positive about this kind of mixture. Of course, now there are a lot of curators who are very understanding of me and support me. But because he was one of the few at the beginning, I really trust him.”
Murakami at the time of the interview was, as he typically seems to be, tired from overwork, from the strains of his ambition. (A critic once labeled him “entrepreneur Energizer Bunny artist.”) He took most questions in English, without interpretation, and answered them in his native Japanese. He would take off his glasses, pinch the bridge of his nose, deliver a thoughtful sigh or a laugh at a question that seemed a little preposterous why would a casual museumgoer come to your show? then start talking, fake louis bag delivering a vision of his work and talent that is surprisingly modest.
“My true honest feeling is that basically I’m here out of sheer luck,” he said. “I just happened to end up here out of sheer luck because even my classmates during my school years, people were always belittling me, saying I have no talent and have no sense of color and (demeaning) my character. So I don’t have much of the pride or satisfaction. replica designer handbags But I have some kind of disability or something about my memory, and I sometimes don’t remember anything. So doing this kind of show and then having my past works all lined up, I sometimes find works that I didn’t really remember. And when I see them, I still don’t feel proud about them and still feel embarrassed by them, but I do feel like, ‘Wow, I have made a lot of work.'”
The museum windows directly behind him were already adorned with giant octopus leg decals visible from the street below. He is now pushing an octopus character into his work and his merchandise. He even wore a kind of octopus hat and suit to the New York City promotional event the museum held in February for the upcoming Murakami retrospective, his first in the States in a decade, and its milestone anniversary.
Here’s what he means by an octopus eating its leg: “My works vary little by little,” he said. “But often I design a piece and would then change colors, alter the design a little bit and then expressions a little bit. And then I work on the same theme by repetition almost. And of course, if possible I would like to come up with fresh ideas and designs every day. But that is not really possible, so every day I repeat and then in the repetition, once in a while I have a new idea or an inspiration and then I make that little progress at that time. It’s just like an octopus who’s really hungry, but there’s fake designer bags really nothing around them. They just have to eat their own leg and then survive by eating their own leg until they by chance find that way to progress and reach that next step.”
Octopus tentacles decorate a front window of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago ahead of the opening of the Takashi Murakami exhibit, “The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg.” (Erin Hooley / Chicago Tribune)
In a couple of new, small works maybe they’re more aptly called “signs” for the show, he offers a slightly different interpretation. The works bear the show’s title in a kind of red graffiti lettering; in the background, in smaller print, is a career self analysis and mission statement that is remarkably frank.
“These days, things are getting out of hand,” he writes, citing his attempts to guide an art fair, run a company and a sort of studio/factory making his art, and nurture younger artists. “I’m sickened by my own stupidity. The title of this exhibition, “The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg,” speaks to this atmosphere of desperation. To recap: I excite myself into a trance, create serious pockets of time and produce work against reason. On the other hand, I try to support young artists, but I am betrayed by them www.dolabuy.su , losing out emotionally and financially.” He hosts gallery shows, he says, that are great in the moment but lose money. “This stupid cycle is the situation embodied replica louis vuitton by the title.”
For all his self laceration, though, as he hinted at with his comment about winning over curators, Murakami is a darling in many quarters of the current art world. His extrapolations from anime and manga, and his coinage of the term “superflat” to describe both his painting style and a flattening of distinctions between high and low culture, have led to fame. There have been increasing prices from collectors 1:1 replica handbags , an uptick in interest by major museums and collaborations with Kanye West (the cover on the groundbreaking 2007 “Graduation” album shows a Murakami bear) and Louis Vuitton.
But there are also some who write him off as merely pop, a sort of canny decorator whose signature flowers and Mr. DOB cartoon character suggest an essential frothiness. In a scathing review of a 2007 New York gallery show, New York magazine critic Jerry Saltz called Murakami “an artist who in the nineties excelled at ultrathin surfaces and magically vapid images of sex and consumerism” but who had become “so set on merging fine art with commercial product that by now all he’s doing is moving merch.”
That was an image Darling wanted to correct with “Octopus,” he said: “Getting people to understand the craftsmanship is a big deal for me and trying to dispel this notion of him just phoning it in and having this army of people making it. I replica louis vuitton bags wanted people to really understand how just insanely crafted these things are.”
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The exhibition came about, he said, after a visit about four years ago to Murakami’s Tokyo studio, where he guides a crew of about 100. “Seeing the most recent work, I got excited by that,” said Darling. He asked to see the artist’s earliest work as well, and those kind of expressionist paintings, including men against a nuclear cooling towers backdrop that the show compares with an Anselm Kiefer work, are on display for the first time and help ground high quality replica handbags china the later art. Maybe those aren’t just happy, magic, woodland mushrooms in the big Mr. DOB sculpture on display.
Without changing his fundamental style, the curator noticed, the artist these days is working deeper, more resonant echoes of Japanese history and art history into his paintings and sculpture. What might look like a collection of troubled cartoon characters, as in the “Arhats” paintings in the exhibition’s penultimate gallery, becomes on closer inspection a riotously detailed meditation on mortality. A patterned backdrop from yards away reveals itself from feet as skull outlines formed in a pile, a recurring Murakami motif. “My ‘Guernica,’ perhaps,” the artist says of one painting in the “Arhats” series, in the show catalog.
“He’s also thinking of his own legacy, what’s really important to him,” said Darling, leading a tour last week of galleries already hung with the giant canvases and often stocked with even more giant crates containing works about to go up. “I think people, once they get to this (second) half of the show are going to sense a shift, a new chapter underway. There’s not such a crazy pop saccharine quality.”
That’s not to say the show will spurn the commercial side of Murakami’s work. Fashion designer Mark Ecko and his Complex “media platform for youth culture,” in Wikipedia’s words, will park a truck selling Murakami items outside the MCA on certain days. Expect plush toys in the gift shop, and, in addition to his special octopus hat and suit, Murakami has even created a mascot for the show.
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America is kind of a sweet spot for the artist, and he plays to it: “If you look at my work in Japan, it seems like it’s way too obvious,” he said. “In Japanese culture, there’s sort of a tendency to think that less said is better and more beautiful or, you know, higher. So they really don’t like context and things explained too much. On the other hand, in the West, there’s a need Discount Replica Louis Vuitton Bags to show the structure and the context, what’s behind. That’s what people are interested in. I feel in that sense my works are more understood here.”
Said Darling, “The showmanship, he admits he has cheap louis vuitton bags from china had to do that to keep Japan on the map in contemporary art. He’s the guy that has to be this he uses the term ‘performing seal’ to kind of keep attention on Japan and its issues and its culture.”
There’s a new sense of intention, though, in his gestures, Darling argued, a feeling that they’ve become more meaningful.
“He’s gotten more kind of pensive, too, over the last five years or so,” the curator said. “Maybe he’s thinking more about his legacy, about what truly matters in art, what survives through the centuries. So I think some of those big things about life and death, spirituality, it’s interesting to see that really seeping into the work.”.