Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Takashi Murakami's 'Google Doodle' for Summer, 2011

My short article for The Christian Science Monitor on Takashi Murakami's 'Google doodle' for summer 2011:

Takashi Murakami has become a global superstar since founding the Hiropon Factory collective of young artists in Japan.

Screenshot of Google.com home page on June 21.

By Roland Kelts, Correspondent / June 21, 2011

Japanese hipster-turned-multimillionaire artist Takashi Murakami’s trademark psychedelic flower faces, narcotized eyes, and menacing mouths have been seen in a lot of places: from MOCA in Los Angeles, the Brooklyn Museum in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain, to the sides of Louis Vuitton handbags and the covers of a Kanye West album. Today, they’ve taken root in cyberspace. Mr. Murakami has contributed the latest so-called Google doodle, a time-specific embellishment of the search engine’s corporate logo meant to commemorate a significant occasion – in this case, the official start of summer 2011.

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Murakami emerged as a self-styled late century Andy Warhol in 1996 when he founded the Hiropon Factory, a collective of young artists who would reproduce his works like widgets. I first encountered his art in the form of a sculpture called Hiropon: a wide-eyed girl-woman with comically massive breasts swinging a stream of lactating milk like a jump-rope around her skipping body.

Hiropon’s sparkly oversized eyes above a pert and tiny nose at first struck me as too self-consciously borrowed from anime cliché. But upon closer inspection, I realized why they were making me increasingly uneasy: blank white orbs of reflected light sat just off-center, adding a hint of Orphan Annie inscrutability to the colorful swaths.

She was cute, even sexy by way of hyperbolic parody. But she was also, quite possibly, deranged.

[more @ CSM]

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