TAKASHI MURAKAMI – Manga meets Versailles
Japanese artist Takashi Murakami was invited this fall by Versailles, despite some protests. Contrary to appearances, the artist who draws and diverts manga universe is not the heir of Pop Art. If his flowers and friendly monsters are smiling, they are most of all critical of our society
An exceptional exhibition will open on September 14 and until December 12th at Versailles. The Japanese artist Takashi Murakami will exhibit twenty nine creations in the Hall of Mirrors and the gardens of the former home of Louis XIV.
An artist who annoys …
The artist, who was born in 1960, is pleased to be able to confront his works inspired by the classic manga culture to Versailles. Especially because this kind of exposure would not be possible in Japan, “the imperial family does not want confrontation with modernity. It is a principle! And besides, the extreme right would be furious, so do not count on it” Yet even in France, the arrival of contemporary art in one of the most important monuments of French history is not accepted unanimously. Several petitions have been launched and an event will be held on September the 14th to prevent the exhibition to happen. Jean-Jacques Aillagon, president of the Public Establishment of Versailles, said that the protests “are from right-wing circles fundamentalist and very conservative circles.” Former Minister of Culture ensures that the works were chosen with great care not to offend the younger audience.
… Confronts …
Takashi Murakami is perhaps known for its flowers and balloons in bright colors and little kawaii (cute) monsters, Mr. DOB, Kakai Kiki … – but the artist uses manga codes to better shock. His sculpture My Lonesome Cowboy – sold in 2008 $ 13.5 million at Sotheby’s – is a young man with shaggy hair, masturbating and using a jet of sperm as a lasso. Versailles will not present the work, preferring avoiding this kind of advertising, two years after another controversy with Jeff Koons exhibition. The arrival of Takashi Murakami in the castle of the sun King is perhaps somewhat surprising but for this lover of Japanese comics, it’s almost a no-brainer, the manga The Rose of Versailles had worked his fertile imagination. “Just as for the French, it can be difficult to recreate in their minds an accurate image of the Samurai period, the history of this palace has crumbled to us in reality”, says the artist. Murakami warns future audiences: “I am the Cheshire cat that welcomes Alice in Wonderland with its diabolic smile, and chatters as she wanders around the Château”.
…Criticizes … and sells!
The son of a taxi driver and a housewife amateur of art, is one of the world’s best known contemporary artists. Pope of the Japanese Superflat movement, neo-pop inspired by the manga, his works (sculptures, paintings, animations) are intended to be very critical of the codes of contemporary Japanese society. Murakami has painted in baby blue color reproductions of genitals to mock the Japanese immaturity. His Lonesome Cowboy is a symbolic representation of the otaku generation: young people who isolate themselves in a fantasy world in order to avoid reality “I express hopelessness,” he says. The manga, coming from the Japanese poverty, is his weapon of choice but as a master in the art of Nihonga (Japanese painting from the 19th-20th centuries), Murakami also diverts the works of the great figures of the Japanese art. If the Japanese ultra-consumerism is for him an inexhaustible source of inspiration, he also uses it to build his own empire. The merchandising made in Murakami is endless and his company Kakai Kiki Corporation employs a hundred of people. The luxury brand Louis Vuitton has even chosen him to bring his unique style to its 2004 collection. The artist superstar also contributes to the revival of the Japanese art scene by curating and sponsoring new artists such as Chiho Aoshima.
If the presence of Takashi Murakami at Versailles may shock some people, it is not surprising. After all, as Jean-Jacques Aillagon said “the Palace of Versailles is an international monster. Takashi Murakami is also” and both are ” machines to invent and disseminate images.”
Published on Lepetitjournal.com
- THE NEW ORDER Vol. 02 featuring KAWS & Takashi Murakami (thenewordermagazine.com)
- Japanese Superflat Art Movement: Kawaii Meets Outer Space Oddball Awesome (deepfriedscifi.wordpress.com)