Flower Ball (3-D) Kindergarten, 2007
Acrylic and platinum leaf on canvas mounted on board. Diameter: 39 1/2 in. (100.3 cm). Signed and dated "Takashi 06" on the reverse.
PROVENANCE Acquired directly from the artist; Gagosian Gallery, New York; John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco
Once every two days, I would buy flowers for my lesson and make compositions for my students to work on. 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 seemed to have its own feelings, its own personality. My dominant feeling was one of unease, but I liked that sensation. And these days, now that I draw flowers rather frequently, that sensation has come back very vividly. I find them just as pretty, just as disturbing. At the same time there is this strength in them; it is the same image of strength I find when drawing the human face. So I thought that if the opportunity arose, I would pretty much like to make a work in which I would represent them as if in a 'crowd scene', in the manner of these scenes of moving crowds that you see in films. […] I really wanted to convey this impression of unease, of the threatening aspect of an approaching crowd… Takashi Murakami in H. Kelmachter, Takashi Murakami Kaikai Kiki, Paris, 2002, p. 84-85 The Japanese art-world superstar Takashi Murakami is known for his energetic fusion of 18th and 19th century Japanese artistic canons with modern-day Japanese social movements such as the culture of "manga". "Manga", characterized by the notion of"kawaii" or "cuteness", is expressed through various forms of digital media, most notably the cartoonish, hyperrealistic animae films. The present lot was inspired by Murakami's artistic heritage as a student of the art of nihon-ga or "Japanese-style" painting. This concept, which focuses on keeping alive Japanese artistic traditions such as painting flowers, was initially developed as a reaction to the increasing influence of Western culture in Japan during the 19th century. Murakami often notes that he owes much of his artistic aesthetic to the rich and turbulent history of his native country paired with the explosion of global connectivity and access to information that has defined contemporary society the past twenty years. By mining his personal and artistic heritage, a dazzling array of Eastern and Western traditions, Murakami has combined these to develop a unique aesthetic which has generated instantly recognizable images and icons. Murakami perfectly exemplifies the artist as a global brand, spanning a range of admirers from varying nationalities, social classes and ethnicities the world over.