Bridging almost a century of Brazilian art, Visions of Brazil: Reimagining Modernity from Tarsila to Sonia at Blum & Poe in New York (30 April–22 June 2019), hosted in collaboration with Mendes Wood DM, offers a rereading of Brazilian Modernism through the works of artists practising at different times, from the 20th century through to the...
In 1969, Horikawa Michio, schoolteacher and member of the artist collective GUN (Group Ultra Niigata), filled out the customs paperwork to mail a one-kilogram river stone from Niigata, the proverbial 'backside of Japan', to President Nixon. In return, Horikawa received a thank you note for this 'most unusual Christmas gift'—a muted anti-war...
'He was not a "political" kind of person. He just wanted to be honest and straight. But it was not easy in Korea to live like that,' writes curator Kim Inhye on artist Yun Hyong-keun. For much of his life, Yun lived in proximity to some of the most tumultuous moments in modern Korean history, from which he emerged as a pioneer of abstract...
Takashi Murakami poses in the gift shop at the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo: Courtesy of Garage Museum of Contemporary Art.
In a 2000 interview with the Japanese photographer Mako Wakasa for the Journal of Contemporary Art, the artist Takashi Murakami presented the following rules for survival and success in the contemporary art market (best exemplified, he said, by Damien Hirst and the continued relevance of Picasso and Warhol): "First of all, distinctively situate his/her position in art history. Second, articulate what the beauty of his/her art is. Next, sexuality. Then, death. Present what he/she finds in death. If an artist aptly rotates this cycle, he/she can survive." Nearly two decades later, at the opening of "Under the Radiation Falls," a retrospective for Murakami at Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow, it's hard not to see the rules in action.
Damien Hirst is an internationally renowned contemporary artist. Hirst studied at Goldsmiths College, London and first gained recognition after curating the seminal show Freeze in 1988; the inaugural exhibition of the group of artists now known as the Young British Artists or YBAs. The exhibition established Hirst and his fellow students as among the most prominent artists of their generation.
Hirst works in a variety of media including installation, sculpture, painting, and drawing. Many of his works revolve around the central theme of death. Among his most notable works are The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, a shark suspended in formaldehyde in a vitrine, and For the Love of God, a human skull completely encrusted in diamonds. Viewers of Hirst’s work are forced to confront their own fears surrounding mortality. His other enduring themes of religion, love, art, and science are also embodied in works equally challenging for which he has created his own motifs and vocabulary. Works range from cabinets of pills, spin paintings and works that use dead butterflies.
Damien Hirst was born in England where he continues to live and work. In 1995, he was the recipient of the Turner Prize. The first retrospective of Hirst’s work, The Agony and the Ecstasy, took place at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples, in 2004. A later retrospective at the Tate Modern in 2012 recognized Hirst’s contributions to British art over the last three decades.
Hirst is also recognised as a disruptive player in the art world. This has involved consigning his own works to an auction house for a one vendor sale, to selling his own editions and multiples through a retail outlet called Other Criteria. Recently Hirst opened his own art gallery in London.
Hirst has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Tate Modern, London (2012); Musei di Palazzo Vecchio, Florence (2010); Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (2008); and Astrup Fearnley Museet fur Moderne Kunst, Oslo (2005). His work is held in major public and private collections around the world.
Best known for his distinctive anime-inspired characters and worlds of explosive neon colours, Takashi Murakami garnered international attention in the late 1990s with his cartoon-like paintings and sculptures.
Murakami's aesthetics largely derive from his concern with the emergence of kawaii (cute) visual culture in post-war Japan. After Japan's surrender to the Allies in 1945, Japanese artists turned to creating cartoon fantasies and harmless characters such as Hello Kitty and Doraemon as a way of reinventing their culture. When these icons began to gain popularity inside and outside Japan, the Japanese government also adopted them—issuing Hello Kitty stamps, for example—to reinvent the country as cool, youthful and approachable.
Murakami uses his kawaii characters to critique Japanese society. In the painting Super Nova (1999), for example, cartoon mushrooms are infested with eyeballs on their bodies. By appropriating anime aesthetics to depict the effects of nuclear explosion on life, Murakami subverted the playfulness and fantasy expected of anime in an attempt to force the viewer to confront reality.
At the same time, Murakami regards kawaii as a means for Japan to establish a cultural cache overseas and has successfully introduced his characters into international popular culture. Between 2002 and 2015, he famously collaborated with Louis Vuitton to redesign the brand's iconic logo print in his signature neon colour palette, and to incorporate his smiling flowers and big-eared characters into its luxury bags. His creations have also appeared in the music industry, notably his artwork for Kanye West albums (Graduation , Kids See Ghosts ) and collaborations with Pharrell Williams to create a sculpture at Art Basel Miami Beach (2009) and a music video (Last Night, Good Night ).
In addition to his anime-inspired characters, Murakami's practice is informed by contemporary events and religious iconography. His solo exhibition In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow at Gagosian New York in 2014 was conceived as a reaction to the Great Tōhoku Earthquake and the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011. For the works in the exhibition, Murakami borrowed from Buddhist, Daoist and Japanese Shinto imageries—such as the enlightened Buddhist monks in the painting Isle of the Dead (2014)—and reinterpreted them as his signature psychedelic, anime-style characters, creating an environment that cultivated spirituality and encouraged healing in the aftermath of the catastrophe.
By the early 2000s, Murakami's style had captivated the imagination of younger artists and spurred an art movement in Japan that came to be known as 'Superflat'. Inspired by the kawaii aesthetics, Superflat artists seek to conflate the dichotomies of high and low art while combining the flatness of traditional Japanese painting with references to both Eastern and Western popular cultures.
Since his introduction to the international art world in the 1990s, Murakami has ventured beyond the galleries to work as a curator and entrepreneur. In 2001, he organised a group show titled Superflat at MOCA Pacific Design Center, West Hollywood. Other notable exhibitions curated by Murakami include Little Boy: The Arts of Japan's Exploding Subculture at Japan Society Gallery, New York (2005); Kazunori Hamana, Yuji Ueda, and Otani Workshop at Blum & Poe, New York (2016); and Juxtapoz x Superflat at Vancouver Art Gallery (2016). Murakami has also been the head of his company, Kaikai Kiki, since 2001. The company represents the forerunners of the Superflat movement, such as Chiho Aoshima, Chinatsu Ban and Aya Takano, and supports aspiring Japanese artists.
Murakami completed his studies at Tokyo University of the Arts and holds a PhD in nihonga. He has exhibited extensively around the world, including Tokyo, Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Paris, Frankfurt and Qatar. In 2010, his sculptures and paintings were displayed in 15 rooms of the Palace of Versailles as part of his first major retrospective in France. The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago also arranged a survey of his works in 2017, many of which had never been shown in North America. An equally recognised artist in his homeland, Murakami was awarded the 66th Art Encouragement Prize by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in 2016.
American artist Andy Warhol was a leading figure in the American Pop Art movement in the 1960s and 70s. His works are often comprised of images appropriated from popular culture and created in a variety of mediums including drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, film, and sculpture. Prior to working as an artist full-time, Warhol had a successful career as a commercial illustrator for several high-profile publications including Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, and The New Yorker. The artist first exhibited his works at the Hugo Gallery, New York in 1952 and was later included in his first group show at the Museum of Modern Art in 1955.
In the 1960’s, Warhol rose to prominence with his ground-breaking paintings and screen-prints of commonplace American objects such as Campbell’s soup cans, dollar bills and Coca-Cola bottles. Arguably the most productive decade of the artist’s career was in the 1960s when Warhol launched his studio, known as ‘the Factory,’ which brought together an eclectic crowd of like-minded liberated individuals including writers, actors, musicians, and drag queens. At this time Warhol also began making films using the same deadpan approach to the commonplace. They were also further evidence of an interest in the serialism and automatism as found in the works of musician John Cage and writer William Burroughs.
Warhol’s art seemingly embraced consumerism, yet alongside the images of celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, and Marlon Brando, Warhol was also producing works that depicted darker subject matter such as police attacks against civil rights protesters, the death sentence, and car crashes. Ultimately it was the ubiquity of mass media imagery and how it flattened all events into a consumerist landscape which was central to Warhol’s practice.
During the 1970’s Warhol became more preoccupied with his entrepreneurial pursuits than his artistic practice and established the influential magazine Interview and published a book titled The Philosophy of Andy Warhol. By the 1980’s, Warhol’s profile was growing once again due to his association with Neo-Expressionist artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Julian Schnabel, and David Salle. Warhol unexpectedly died in 1987.The Andy Warhol Museum in the artist’s hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, holds the title for the largest museum dedicated to a single artist in North America. His works are held in major public and private collections worldwide.
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