Polymorphous jellyfish eyes will occupy a space in the sky and please the eye when Japanese artist Takashi Murakami’s billboard design is on view atop a building at Hennepin Avenue and 12th Street in downtown Minneapolis from September 15–November 14. The most attention-grabbing artist to come out of Japan in the past decade is also its most complex, slippery, and multidimensional creative mind, incessantly crossing boundaries with incredible vigor and ease. While Murakami is widely known for creating affordable, mass-produced merchandise that quarries the ubiquitous “cute” in Japanese popular culture, he is also a classically trained painter, an art historian, a cultural provocateur, and a playfully hucksterish entrepreneur. Since 2000, he has also been the prophet of “Superflat,” a concept that refers to the level plane where memory, history, art history, high culture, and popular culture operate with equal weight and no distinctions. His exhibition of the same name, which traveled to the Walker in 2001, presented artworks, design products, and Japanese comics and animation as an organic whole.
Since then, Murakami has expanded the realm of Superflat through a series of two-dimensional works inhabited by his trademark images—psychedelic-hued mushrooms, strobe-light eyeballs and smiley flowers, and most recently, candy-colored monograms for the famous French fashion house Louis Vuitton. The media’s enthusiasm and his fans’ obsession with his polymorphous work suggest how this self-professed “floating” Japanese artist with allegedly no historical consciousness may be, in fact, an artist most astutely informed and positioned for our global age. Murakami’s work was included in the Walker exhibitions Let’s Entertain (2000) and Painting at the Edge of the World (2001).
The Billboard Project is part of Walker without Walls, a year of programming spanning the Twin Cities made possible by generous support from Target. By utilizing public and urban spaces, Walker without Walls programs provide direct access to art and culture. The Billboard Project concludes in November with a commissioned design by Matthew Barney.
Walker information/box office: 612.375.7622.