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February 4, 2004

{     Takashi Murakami Superflat Museum Convenience Store Edition     }    

Pop Art has found it's messiah in the form of Takashi Murakami. Often referred to as "The Japanese Warhol", Murakami has managed to parlay his love of native pop culture into a globe-spanning career that has brought him success, fame, and fortune. His sculpture "Miss ko2" sold for $567,500 in November of 2002, setting a personal sales record at Christie's auction house. His recent collaboration with designer Louis Vuitton has resulted in a fashion craze as well as spawning an elaborate gallery show including a 10 minute animated feature broadcast as part of the installation. While he may the darling of the art and fashion world, Murakami has stayed closely tied to the culture that he draws inspiration from- the decidedly lowbrow mediums of animation, manga and the hyper-cute illustrations of mascot characters that accompany all things Japanese. He's created a movement called Superflat, a collective of artists and designers who create work that seems rooted in simple presentation styles and that draws directly from the well-spring of Japanese pop-culture. There is nothing terribly obscure about this work, and Murakami seems to make a point of cultural accessibility. To that end, he has collaborated with toy manufacturers Kaiyodo and Takara to bring forth a line of shokugan (meaning "snack toy") figures bearing the title Takashi Murakami's Superflat Museum. The figures range in height from 1" to 4" and include reproductions of some of his sculptural work as well as figures brought to life from his paintings and drawings. The current incarnation of Superflat Museum, known as the Convenience Store Edition offers 6 different designs randomly packaged with certificates of authenticity, mini-portfolios including information about the work that inspired them and interviews with Murakami, as well as two peices of chewing gum. Importer Ningyoushi's Workshop is one of the only English retailers to offer the figures, retailing them for $15 at their on-line store ningyoushi.com. Now you can have a reproduction of the sculpture "Hiropon" (pictured above) for a fraction of the $380,000 price tag of the original. Each peice is lovingly modeled after prototypes sculpted by master figure designer Bome, a man as enigmatic and otaku-obsessed as Murakami, and the only person that Murakami would trust to successfully bring these miniature peices to life. I've been fortunate enough to acquire two of these figures, and as they arrived in unopened boxes there is no way to know what exactly you're getting until you open it. I received "Hiropon" and "Machikado-kun" an adorable little Bodhisattva monk, and am continually awed by the amount of detail that has gone into each peice. They are elevated beyond "toy" status not simply because of Murakami's association with them but because they exude an aura of otherworldliness. As with the other works of the artist, these figures cross the line between the anime, manga and mascots that inspire them to create something new, something we haven't fully realized yet. It's a dream world where the subconcious desire for sex is constantly married to the comicly absurd, where the most adorable character is also the wisest and most profound. This is a fantastic vision that will continue to assert itself, whether in the form of plastic figures, paintings, sculpture, film or fashion as long as Murakami is able to share it. On a side note, I'd like to give a huge shout out to Ningyoushi's Workshop for making these peices available in the US. Denise and Omar have consistently provided some of the hardest to find Japanes pop-culture items at prices that meet or beat other secondary markets. Their site is vast, and they cover a lot of ground from HK vinyl to Sony Capsule Toys. With excellent customer service and reasonable shipping, I cannot reccomend their services enough.

     » Buy Takashi Murakami's Superflat Museum figures from ningyoushi.com
     » Takashi Murakami at Marianne Boesky Gallery (see the gallery show)
     » official Superflat Museum site (hope you read Japanese)

Comments

I will second the props for Ningyoushi’s Workshop. I ordered some of these toys as well as some other stuff and it arrived at my house in record time, well packed and I think they even spit-shined the packing slip.

As far as the toys, my man Adam is dead on with his description and I can't think of a damn thing to add as far as telling you how badass these little figures are, but I can tell you that the ones I got are the little dude sitting on the shroom and then a set of the little eyeball shrooms themselves. Sadly, no dob or tittie-milk jumprope, but I'm still mucho happy.

I'm gonna add that these things are gonna be worth a shit-ton when they're sold out, so move on it or be sad later. Or just paypal me a ton of cash.

I'm also gonna add that you should buy "Takashi Murakami: The Meaning of the Nonsense of the Meaning" which is a decent priced book on the man TM.

Posted by: shane at February 4, 2004 7:59 PM

I got a signed box of toys from mr. Murakami today...can you tell me how much these worth?

Posted by: aaron at May 15, 2004 3:28 AM

They ain't worth jack, but don't worry, because he's not cool anymore. But don't worry man, I'll take them off your hands for a song!

Posted by: Shane at May 16, 2004 5:53 PM

rock on

Posted by: phil at February 6, 2006 12:44 PM
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