Japanese artist Takashi Murakami is no stranger to collaboration. In 2002, he collaborated with Marc Jacobs on a series of handbags for Louis Vuitton that overlayed Murakami’s artworks onto the French fashion house’s iconic monogram. In 2009, Murakami and Pharrell Williams unveiled a collaborative $2 million space-ship like sculpture at Art Basel made with 26,000 diamonds to 'illustrate a metaphor for value.' In fact, blurring the lines between high art and commercialism is a key part of the Japanese artist’s work and found commonly in his signature style ‘super flat’, psychedelic paintings and sculptures which have been seminal for creating a new type of modern art-market in Japan.
Murakami’s latest collaboration is an exhibition with designer Virgil Abloh. future history, which will be held at London’s Gagosian between 21 February – 7 April, will combine a mixture of sculpture and painting that merges both artists’ styles and trademarks as a comment on our current culture in the hopes that we can then artistically mediate on our future. “We want to see the newest things. That is because we want to see the future, even if only momentarily,” says Murakami in the show’s press release. “It is the moment in which, even if we don’t completely understand what we have glimpsed, we are nonetheless touched by it. This is what we have come to call art.”
By working together in Murakami’s Tokyo studio, the duo has produced a unique series of works in which their style fuse in a stream of free-wheeling, punkish mash-ups. For example, a sculpture called “Life Itself” (2018) uses Abloh’s background as a trained architect and engineer to create an artificial shell that houses one of Murakami’s sinister flower sculptures. “Glance Past The Future” (2018), will be another key work of the show, where the duo transforms Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s 1623 self-portrait by superimposing Murakami’s character Mr DOB to create a graphic blur of pink and black. The end result presents like a deteriorated street poster that leaves behind traces of art history. “We are driven by an innate ambition to make artworks that are shaped by societal observations – in a variety of media – which by their existence produce a new cultural impact,” muses Abloh.
Dubbed by the Gagosian as ‘kindred spirits from opposite axes of a broader cultural zone’, this isn’t the first time two artists have collaborated. In 2017, the duo first collaborated on a range of hand printed t-shirts inspired by Murakami’s 1992-2007 Signboard project. It is rumoured that their will also be a line of merch on sale at future history.
future history is on at London’s Gagosian (17–19 Davies Street, London W1K 3DE) between 21 February - 7 April. You can find out more here