He's been dubbed Japan's Andy Warhol (whom the artist regards as a personal hero) ...mainly because of his ability to blend "high art " with "low art" - drawing on contemporary culture in Japan (manga, anime and pop) and blurring the boundaries between fine art and commerce. He embraces "cuteness" - or "kawai" - welcoming pop culture and consumerism.
He's now one of the best known Japanese - and Asian -contemporary artists...and his works can fetch huge prices at auction (his painting, Vapor Trail sold for $2.1m at Sotheby's in New York this year)
. He's probably best known among the general public for his collaboration with designer Marc Jacobs in designing handbags and fashion products for Louis Vuitton. More recently, he collaborated with rapper Kayne West on the singer's album and is designing a jewellery line for him.
He calls his cartoon-like style “superflat” - characterized by flat planes of color with no artistic perspective.. And he's effortlessly moved across different genres from huge sculptures to painting and commercial work. He's now planning to release a full length feature animation in 2009, Kaikai and Kiki - which is also the name of his factory. The factory holds a twice yearly event, promoting other contemporary young Japanese artists.
Murakami is an individual, an art name and a brand. His work has been copied onto mugs and t-shirts., as well as the expensive LV bags.
He has said he's inspired by the business models of Bill Gates (Microsoft) ; and Steve Jobs at Apple computer.
Does the commercialisation of his work undermine it or diminish its value? not according to the artist, who says the art market needs famous names and lots of art works. History will judge, he says.
He's quite a phenomenon. I'm intrigued to see what he will do next.