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J Art Japanese Pop Art

Updated on January 30, 2016
MrDOB by Murakami
MrDOB by Murakami

Japan's unique art subculture

Welcome to my hub on Japanese pop art or J-art. If your fascinated by Manga and Anime then J-Art is for you, J-Art is Japan's unique art subculture which has gained it influence from the west and other modern art forms. And one of the most popular artist from Japan in this category is Takashi Murakami, best know for his collaboration with Louis Vuitton, designing the cherry blooms series but is also for starting his own post war japan art movement "Superflat" to express his concerns for the current social and cultural identity of Japan today.

Here you will find a history to pop art and introduction to J-Art and other Japan artists such as Takashi Murakami.

Takashi Murakami and The Superflat Art Movement

Takashi Murakami is an internationally renowned Japanese pop artist. Who's influences include Japanese Manga and Anime. Murakami uses a range of mediums for his artistic works including painting, sculptures and other more commercial mediums such as fashion, merchandise and animation.

In 2000, Takashi Murakami also founded a post-modern art movement and coined the term “Superflat" for the movement and to describe both the aesthetic characteristics of the Japanese artistic tradition and the nature of post-war Japanese culture and society.

The term “Superflat” is used by Murakami to refer to various flattened forms in Japanese graphic art, animation, pop culture and fine arts, but also to describe the "shallow emptiness of Japanese consumer culture."

The Superflat theory states the differences in social class and popular taste have ‘flattened,’ during post war Japan producing a culture with little distinction between the ‘high’ and ‘low. This convergence is practised by Murakami’s himself in his creation of art which involves the repackaging of elements that are usually considered “low end” or subcultural art and presenting them in the form of “high end art”. Muramkai also uses this same idea in reverse to further flattens the playing field by repackaging his “high-end art” works as merchandise, such as plush toys and T-shirts, making them commercially available and more affordable.

This unique idea has produced a niche branding art phenomenon which was highly successful in the USA and introduced Takashi Murkami and Japanese pop art to the world. In 2001 a Superflat art exhibition curated by Murakami toured parts of the USA including The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

The word “Superflat” has also been used to describe Murakami’s own artistic style and other Japanese artists he has influenced. These include artists such as Chiho Aoshima, Mahomi Kunikata, Sayuri Michima, Yoshitomo Nara, Tatsuyuki Tanaka and Aya Takano.

In addition, some animators within anime and some manga artist are considered “Superflat”, especially Koji Morimoto, and the work of Hitoshi Tomizawa, author of Alien 9 and Milk Closet.

A great collection of art works by Japanese Pop Artist Takashi Murakami

Murakami's 2010 exhibition at the Chateau de Versailles Paris, France

Head of the Palace of Versailles, Jean-Jacques Aillagon talks about why a Murakami exhibition

J Art Takashi Murakami

Japanorama was a series of BBC documentaries presented by Jonathan Ross from 2002-2007, exploring various facets of popular culture and trends of modern-day Japan. Each episode had a theme, around which he presented cultural phenomena, films, music, and art that exemplify facets of Japan. In Season 3 of Japanorama episode 3 about J-Art or Japanese pop culture, This episode introduces Takashi Murakami, one of Japan's most influential Artist who started his own artistic movement called "Superflat" which is a concept describing the flatting of culture and society today in modern japan.

Yayoi Kusama - The Polka Dot Princess

Yayoi Kusama was born 1929 in Matsumoto, Japan. She is a Japanese Artist whose paintings, collages, soft sculptures, performance art and environmental installations centred around Polka dots sharing an obsession with repetition, patterns and accumulation. Describing herself as an "obsessive artist" drawing inspiration from her life long suffering from mental illness as a child. Kusama, now in her early eighties lives in a studio nears a mental hospital in Tokyo and where she she still produces her art works.

Yayoi Kusama also became the first Japanese woman to receive the Praemium Imperiale in 2006, one of Japan's most prestigious prizes for internationally recognized artists. She is considered as Japan's greatest living artist.

Kusama's art collections are displayed in some of the leading museums from around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Tate Modern, London, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.

In the early 1950, Kusama started to create abstract natural forms in water color, gouache and oil, primarily on paper. Later she began covering various surfaces such as walls, floors, canvases, and later, household objects and naked assistants with polka dots that would become her trademark. She rivalled Andy Warhol for press attention and was dubbed by the paparazzi "The Polka Dot Princess" and "Dotty". The vast fields of polka dots, or "infinity nets," as she called them, were inspired from her hallucinations and mental illness. Her first series of large-scale canvas paintings was named "Infinity Nets", were a sequences of nets and dots that resembled her hallucinations.

Since 1963,Yayoi Kusama created and has continued her series of Mirror/Infinity rooms, a complex installation consisting of a purpose-built room lined with mirrored glass contain scores of neon coloured balls, hanging at various heights above the viewer. Standing inside on a small platform, light is infinitely refracted off the mirrored surfaces creating the illusion of a never-ending space.

In 1966, Kusama first participated in the 33rd Venice Biennale displaying her Narcissus Garden comprised hundreds of mirrored spheres outdoors in what she called a 'kinetic carpet'. As soon as the piece was installed, she began selling each individual sphere for $2, until the Biennale organisers put an end to her enterprise. Perhaps one of Yayoi Kusama's most notorious works, Narcissus Garden was as much about the promotion of the artist through the media as it was an opportunity to offer a critique of the mechanisation and commodification of the art market.

Various versions of Narcissus Garden have been presented worldwide venues including Le Consortium, Dijon, 2000; Kunstverein Braunschweig, 2003; as part of the Whitney Biennial in Central Park, New York in 2004; and at the Jardin de Tuileries in Paris, 2010.

After living in the USA, Kusama returned to Japan in 1973 because of ill health and now lives nears a mental hospital in Tokyo where she started writing shockingly visceral and surrealistic novels, short stories, and poetry.

Narcissus Garden's

Yayoi Kusama Featured in Japanorama by Jonathan Ross

Yayoi Kusama is featured on the BBC documentary Japanorama, hosted by Jonathan Ross in Season 3, Episode 1 on Gaijin (Outsiders)

Kids Critique Yayoi Kusama's exhibition 'Give Me Love'


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