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Takashi Murakami’s “Mr. DOB” portraits date back to the beginning of the artist’s career when the artist was looking for an iconic, easily recognizable, self-portrait – a way to brand himself. Like a logo, the letter ‘D’ appears in the character’s left ear, the letter ‘B’ in the right ear, and ‘O’ is formed by the character’s face. Though the overall image is reminiscent of Mickey Mouse, all of Murakami’s elements are traditionally Japanese – anime characters like Doraemon and Sonic the Hedgehog and the letters DOB are thought to be a contraction of “Dobojite dobojite” (why? why?), a catchphrase of Japanese comedian Toru Yuri.
And Then x 727 (Vermillion: SHU) is a 19.5 x 19.5 – inch hand signed offset lithograph on paper created in 2013.
One of the most acclaimed artists to emerge from postwar Asia, Takashi Murakami—“the Warhol of Japan”—is known for his contemporary Pop synthesis of fine art and popular culture, particularly his use of a boldly graphic and colorful anime and manga cartoon style. Murakami became famous in the 1990s for his “Superflat” theory and for organizing the paradigmatic exhibition of that title, which linked the origins of contemporary Japanese visual culture to historical Japanese art. His output includes paintings, sculptures, drawings, animations, and collaborations with brands such as Louis Vuitton. “Japanese people accept that art and commerce will be blended; and in fact, they are surprised by the rigid and pretentious Western hierarchy of “high art’,” Murakami says. “In the West, it certainly is dangerous to blend the two because people will throw all sorts of stones. But that’s okay—I’m ready with my hard hat.”