Takashi Murakami isn't called the Japanese Warhol for nothing. In his most recent retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum, Murakami’s 90-plus-works use popular culture to investigate branding and identity. But, instead of using the likeness of celebrities, Murakami introduces the public to his own world of characters in the form of life-size transformer dolls, anime-inspired paintings, and a 10-minute cartoon episode. His world is cheeky, bright, and fun.
The buzz surrounding the artist may be, in part, due to his focus on his own brand. His collaboration with Louis Vuitton in 1999—where he created a new collection of leather goods—is displayed in the form of a luxurious in-house shop (yes, bags can be purchased). The artist also self-imposes his name in a popular Japanese model maker’s sign, keeping the tagline "first in quality around the world."
Murakami’s most stunning works showcase his affinity for anime: A 7-paneled-painting of mushrooms dotted with eyes alludes to the bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and his hybrid character, Mr. DOB, is a morph of what could be Mickey Mouse and Sonic-the-Hedgehog. With all the buzz surrounding Murakami’s work, these are the ones that live up to all the hype.
The exhibit © MURAKAMI is on display until July 13 in the Morris A. Meyer Schapiro Wing and Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Gallery on the 4th and 5th floors. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for students. (www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/murakami)