Takashi Murakami, From Pop Culture Icon to Japanese Art Historian

The artist, known worldwide for his 'pop culture' pieces, draws on Japanese tradition as his main source of inspiration.



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If Takashi Murakami were to hold on to just one reference book to stimulate his creativity, it would be Lineage of Eccentrics, which he considers to be his personal bible. This book, published in 1970, is an anthology that compiles the greatest artists in Japanese history, by Tsuji Nobuo, a renowned art historian and Murakami’s mentor for several years. The two men are so close that they maintain a public correspondence and set each other artistic challenges.

This special relationship was solidified with a joint exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston in 2017, which led to a co-authored book, also entitled Lineage of Eccentrics, that links Murakami’s work to the pictorial tradition that Nobou specialises in. This exciting work detaches Murakami from pop culture and takes him back to the very essence of Japan and its grand masters. This re-contextualisation is enlightening and rich in detail.


Takashi Murakami: Lineage of Eccentrics (2018), by Takashi Murakami and Nobuo Tsuji, published by MFA Publications (available only in English)


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