Takashi Murakami Retrospective at Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

Takashi Murakami Retrospective at Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

Louis Vuitton announces the retrospective exhibition of masterpieces created by artist Takashi Murakami at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain from February 17th to May 31st 2009.

About the Exhibition

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao will present ©MURAKAMI, the most comprehensive retrospective to date of the works of Takashi Murakami. The exhibition will feature more than 90 artworks in various media including painting, sculpture, installation, and film. Included will be iconic works that track the ongoing evolution of Murakami’s anime alter ego DOB, his otaku-inspired figure projects of the late ‘90s, an archive of licensed Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. merchandise that spans Takashi Murakami’s entire career, and a retrospective of his creations for Louis Vuitton since 2003.

©MURAKAMI was organized by The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), where it debuted in October 2007. Chief curator Paul Schimmel initiated the unprecedented inclusion of a Louis Vuitton store in its presentation. Complementing several artworks in the exhibition that feature Murakami’s famous Louis Vuitton Multicolor Monogram, the store reflected the artist’s complex interweaving of high art, mass culture, fashion, and commerce that has become integral to his philosophy and practice. The exhibition travelled to the Brooklyn Museum in New York in April 2008, and continuing this concept, also included a fully operational Louis Vuitton store. In September 2008 the Museum für Moderne Kunst (MMK) in Frankfurt Germany became the first platform for the ©MURAKAMI exhibition in Europe. The exhibition tour makes its final stop at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in February 2009. There is also a Louis Vuitton exhibition in which Murakami will be exhibiting, scheduled for Hong-Kong later in the year.

©MURAKAMI presents a selection of the artist’s major works spanning the entire length of his career, beginning with his works from the early 1990s, which launched Japan’s Neo-Pop generation. A significant portion of the exhibition is dedicated to the ongoing evolution of Murakami’s alter ego, DOB, and the figure projects of the late 1990s inspired by the otaku, a Japanese anime and manga obsessed geek subculture. A particularly important feature will be the monumental installation presenting the retrospective work of Murakami collaborating with world leading luxury brand Louis Vuitton.

Takashi Murakami is among a generation of artists whose pictorial vocabulary combines motifs from pop culture with the stylistic characteristics of traditional Japanese art, such as a flat picture plane, patterning and ornamentation. Among the most influential artists to emerge from Japan in recent decades, he has produced an extensive and highly varied oeuvre that appeals to a wide audience – from art collectors to video game-obsessed youths. In a manner reminiscent of Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, and Jeff Koons, his works reference pop culture and go one step further to forge a link between high and low culture. Because he includes imagery from the worlds of media and consumerism taken from his everyday life (both in the United States and in Japan), Murakami’s artwork has evolved an iconography and set of characters that are both fantastic and spiritual in equal measure, and which he brings to life in paintings, films, installations, and sculpture. He then feeds the characters and imagery he has created back into the product cycle by bringing them to market in extremely high quantities as merchandising products; particularly prints, but also as key rings, badges, and t-shirts.

Highlights of the exhibition: the Louis Vuitton area

The later products of his collaboration with the Louis Vuitton House will be on view in a section of the third floor of the museum. These products represent the quintessence of Murakami’s artistic strategy. The collaboration between the luxury brand and Murakami was initiated by Marc Jacobs, Artistic Director at Louis Vuitton, for the 2003 spring/summer collection, after he saw the Murakami exhibition at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris. Murakami first brought colour and mischief to the Louis Vuitton Monogram by re-creating it in 33 colours on a black or white background called the “Eye Love Monogram Collection.” The collaboration between the two creative talents also spawned the “Monogram Cherry Blossom” line later that year, and the “Monogram Cerise” pattern in 2005. The final pattern, “Monogramouflage” debuted at the Brooklyn Museum in 2008.

“Our collaboration has produced a lot of works, and has been a huge influence and inspiration to many. It has been, and continues to be, a monumental marriage of art & commerce. The ultimate cross-over, one for both the fashion and art history books” comments Marc Jacobs.

For the duration of the exhibition, hand-embroidered tapestry designed by Murakami for Louis Vuitton will be displayed in two and three-square meter sizes. Representing the epitome of craftsmanship, the tapestry named FLOWERBALL has been woven from top quality New Zealand wool using the craft of lock stitching method that employs about 20 knots per square centimeters. At least three months are required to produce these masterpieces that combine know-how, tradition, innovation, elegance and art; fundamental values to Louis Vuitton.

The tapestry will be available for sale only on special request to the Louis Vuitton store in Bilbao, (Gran Via 42, 48011, Bilbao), in a limited edition of 20 pieces.

Speaking about the inclusion of the devoted Louis Vuitton area within the exhibition, Yves Carcelle, Chairman and CEO of Louis Vuitton declares “This is an exciting interrelation between the worlds of art and luxury in a vibrant and dynamic fashion. Louis Vuitton is a brand that has brought innovation to tradition for more than 150 years. This energy to continuously create and renovate, whilst maintaining and honouring the history and identity of the brand, has inspired many artists, who have, in turn, inspired Louis Vuitton.”

Image via Louis Vuitton


  • AEC

    No special bags for sale in the Bilbao or HK exhibits? Like the MOCA or Brooklyn ones? The MOCA exhibit is special for me as that is where I bought my first LV. 🙂

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