From Tokyo with Love
Takashi Murakami brings 30 years of art—as well as new masterpieces—to the MCA Chicago
PERHAPS HIS NAME DOESN’T RING A BELL, BUT YOU’VE UNDOUBTEDLY SEEN TAKASHI MURAKAMI’S WORK.
In 2002, the Japanese artist rose to international fame when Marc Jacobs (then the lead designer for Louis Vuitton) tapped him to redesign the fashion house’s iconic monogram. The two incorporated Murakami’s colorful flower cartoons on handbags, which were a giant commercial success. Soon, more high-profile partnerships rolled in: In 2007, Murakami created the album art for Kanye West’s “Graduation,” in 2014 he created a music video with Pharrell.
Now, the man who’s been heralded as Japan’s answer to Andy Warhol is bringing his retrospective, “The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg,” to the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. From June 6 to September 24, 30 years of the artist’s work will be on display, as well as several giant new pieces (some of which will still be drying when the exhibit opens). It’s in these larger-than-life creations that Murakami attempts to find inspiration. “I cannot readily encounter fresh ideas,” he admits. “I spend my days desperately hoping to find fragments of ideas by immersing myself in my artwork through the production of these enormous paintings and sculptures.”
There’s hardly a form of art Murakami hasn’t dabbled in: traditional Japanese paintings, animéinspired cartoons, sculptures and even commercial fashion and music. But his current obsession is film. “I am making movies and animations, [because] weaving narratives is a new experience for me,” he says. “It lets me refresh my brain.”
As his success and fame continue to rise—and his works fetch higher and higher prices—Murakami feels more inner turmoil. “I’m often interviewed as a successful person and that really troubles me,” he says. “Some days I fear being left behind by the very industry in which I work, constantly dealing with pressing deadlines for new works and the need to come up with new ideas.”
Rather than let fears stifle his ingenuity, Murakami takes a more grateful approach: “I am at the mercy of my destiny and am living in a present that I could not have imagined,” he says. “I feel honored to now find myself working in the world that I once admired.” At least in our opinion, it’s a world that is honored to have him.
Suggested admission, $12. 220 E. Chicago Ave., 312.280.2660, mcachicago.org
Takashi Murakami in front of his work. Below: “Flowers, flowers, flowers” by Murakami