“In Japan, there is no high and there is no low. It’s all flat.”
Murakami became increasingly drawn to the world of manga and anime, and was fascinated by the concept of kawaii, a Japanese term that translates roughly to “cuteness.” He sought ways to incorporate these popular trends into his works to create something of lasting value. As he explained in a 2001 essay, quoted in Wired magazine: “I set out to investigate the universality of characters such as Mickey Mouse, Sonic the Hedgehog, Doraemon, Miffy, and Hello Kitty.”
Murakami has dubbed this style “Superflat,” which is, in part, a tribute to the two-dimensional style of some Japanese cartoons. Murakami has also explained the style as a reference to such high-tech devices as flat-screen televisions and computer monitors. The term also reflects the smashing of distinctions between fine art and commercial art, between high culture and low. Murakami told Interview, “In Japan, there is no high and there is no low. It’s all flat.”
Murakami’s style is an amalgam of his Western predecessors, Warhol, Oldenberg and Roy Lichtenstein, as well as Japanese predecessors and contemporaries of anime and manga. ArtNews reported Murakami’s work as being among the most valued in the world. In 2008, Takashi Murakami made Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” list, the only visual artist included.
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