Back to Press March 15, 2017

Paddle8 Announces First Dedicated Auction to the Works of Takashi Murakami

Strange Forest: The Colorful World of Takashi Murakami Features More than 100 Works Bidding Live March 15-March 28

New York, NY — Paddle8, the leading online auction house, is pleased to announce Strange Forest: The Colorful World of Takashi Murakami, the first dedicated auction to Murakami’s work. Strange Forest offers a glimpse into the world and prolific career of one of the world’s most celebrated contemporary artists. The auction features more than 100 works spanning 17 years of the artist’s career and touching on the major themes of his oeuvre including Superflat, consumerism, self-portraiture, Japanese kaijū (monster) movies, skull motifs, flowerballs, the circle ensō, Mr DOB and Jellyfish Eyes. The sale will be live for bidding worldwide March 15-28, 2017.

Credited as single-handedly defining the look of contemporary Japanese art, Murakami is a groundbreaking and prolific artist who works across a spectrum of mediums including painting, sculpture, environmental installations, prints, multiples, drawings, media works, and popular merchandise. Strange Forest focuses on his prints and multiples offering some of his most iconic themes, with starting prices ranging from $500 to $3,000.

In 2000, Murakami published his Superflat theory in a catalogue for an exhibition he curated of the same name for MOCA in Los Angeles. The theory defines the legacy of flat 2-dimensional imagery in historical Japanese visual art and extends it through contemporary visual culture of manga and anime. Not only visually flat, but Murakami posits that post-war Japanese culture flattened out producing a culture without a high-end and low-end. Accordingly, Murakami’s work consistently repositions mass market or consumerist architypes and translates them into high culture or fine art. Consistent throughout his work are the highly playful and experimental forms of whimsical childhood characters. Murakami explores puerile fascinations with themes of histories of art and contemporary consumer practices. “Murakami’s work is some of the most recognizable and influential visual culture in contemporary art today,” says Paddle8’s Auctions Manager and sale lead. “His whimsical world seems fresh and newly critical when regarded in this kind of concentration.”

The sale includes highlights such as:

Jellyfish Eyes (2006), which evokes a sense of anxiety as it references Japanese kaijū (monster) movies, a genre that inspired the artist to make a film that shares its title with the works of this series.

Flowerball: Multicolors (2014) is one of more than thirty of Murakami’s “Flowerball” works in Strange Forest, dynamic color-drenched prints featuring his now iconic smiling flowers. When describing the use of flowers in his work, Murakami states, “At the beginning, to be frank, I didn't like flowers, but as I continued teaching in the school, my feelings changed: their smell, their shape–it all made me feel almost physically sick, and at the same time I found them very 'cute.' Each one seems to have its own feelings, its own personality.” These works reflect his oscillation between repulsion and adoration, as the intensely saturated pattern simultaneously overwhelms and excites.

DOB in Pure White Robe (Pink and Blue) (2013), one of several works in the sale depicting Mr. DOB, the whimsical large-eared smiling character, which was Murakami’s first signature character named after a contraction of the Japanese slang expression “dobojite” or “why?” DOB is literally spelled out across his ears and face. This work is partially based on a stylized portrait of the artist himself. A reflection of the artist's critical attitude towards the emptiness of consumer culture, these works echo contemporary media imagery and computer graphics while recalling the two-dimensionality of traditional Japanese painting. By drawing together Western styles, contemporary media, and the subculture of otaku (anime and manga fandom), itself derived from the introduction of American comics, Murakami is able to reflect on a variety of issues, such as the impact of technology and globalization, and their effect on national and individual identity.

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