Takashi Murakami is having a moment.
The Japanese artist — who has collaborated with Louis Vuitton, Billie Eilish and Kanye West, among others, and whose work encompasses fashion, film, animation and NFTs — is being celebrated with a pair of immersive exhibitions on the East and West Coasts.
Open through June 25 at Gagosian New York, and occupying galleries at both 976 and 980 Madison Avenue, “An Arrow through History” looks at how Murakami is connecting the physical and digital aspects of his practice, by featuring the Clone x NFT avatars he developed in collaboration with Nike-owned RTFKT Studios. For the show, the NFTs have been translated from the metaverse into hand-painted portraits and figurative sculptures.
Another section is devoted to the paintings that inspired his “Murakami.Flowers” NFT project, touching on his career-long Superflat and 1980s video game aesthetic influences.
“Since Pop Art, there hasn’t been any huge monumental art movement. And NFT kind of is that big movement…moving forward, many young artists and art students might debut their NFT art and almost simultaneously have a museum art show,” Murakami told WWD.
An immersive viewing experience, created by RTFKT and OnCyber, is accessible at gagosian.com and through personal VR headsets, allowing the exhibition to be viewed anywhere in the world. Gallery visitors can activate Snapchat lenses to view AR animations in each gallery and on the building’s exterior. And should visitors want to purchase any of the works, Gagosian now accepts cryptocurrency.
In L.A., The Broad museum’s “Takashi Murakami: Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow” runs through Sept. 25 and includes 18 works spanning sculpture, painting and wallpaper, exploring themes of globalization, postwar Japan and religion, which are all the more relevant in this pandemic era.
This show will include immersive environments developed in partnership with Meta’s Spark AR, Instagram, and Buck, which allow visitors to use an app to see Murakami characters step out of the physical world.
The focal point for the exhibition is the 82-foot-wide painting “In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow” (2014), which is the Broad’s largest work and among the artist’s largest.
“I started mining some of the themes inside that painting made as a part of a large body of work in relation to the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami…And as COVID-19 delayed plans, lives were impacted, and on Instagram Takashi was reflecting on that body of work, and how art can deal with trauma, how the world is changed by disasters, religions are born and large energies inside of societies are released, those are some of the connections we started to make,” says curator Ed Schad.
“The desire was to look at what he’s done in the aftermath of World War II, Fukushima in 2011, and pause and say, ‘here’s a person who has a very provocative and beautiful way of handling trauma’…And for me, that’s where Murakami is headed, and anyone who has taken a casual glance at his Instagram feed can see he’s going there, he’s going into the metaverse, NFTs and thinking about what’s next. He’s made art out of everything, from T-shirts to cookies to pancake griddles, but what does it mean to make art as we’re heading into the digital world?”