Takashi Murakami

Takashi Murakami isn't just a modern Japanese artist. He is The Japanese artist of modern times. In fact, some might argue that he's more of a rockstar or brand name than an artist at all.

Murakami's most famous creation to most people, many of whom don't even know his name, is his re-making of the Louis Vuitton logo in his own image. The colorful logos he created for LV now adorn just about everything they sell from umbrellas to purses. If you know how much many people in Japan love their LV, you can start to understand the phenomenon that Murakami has become.

A common comparison is made between Murakami and Andy Warhol. It's a valid one, but Murakami has taken Warhol to the next level. Where Warhol took common products and transformed them into fine art, Murakami seems to be taking common products and making them common products that have the blessing of an artist. Imagine if Warhol had actually worked with Campbell soup. Murakami is a product of one of the most consumer and trend driven cultures in the world, so his Warhol-esque-ness shouldn't come as a big surprise.

Major collectors have jumped on the bandwagon and the value of Murakami works at auction continue to skyrocket. He is also the ringleader of a group of Japanese artists called Kaikai Kiki, along with other notables including Aya Takano and Yoshitama Nara. The group had a highly acclaimed show in Los Angeles in 2001 called "Superflat". As part of that exhibit, Murakami released a "Superflat" book, which explains (in both English and Japanese) some of his philosophy and how he became the artist that he is.

The piece shown above ("Wink") is Murakami's modern update on Buddha. It was a limited edition piece commissioned by Peter Norton as a holiday gift in the year 2000.

Official Site: KaikaiKiki.co.jp