Globalization as an Artistic Strategy: The Case of Takashi Murakami

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In 2010, the Japanese artist Takashi Murakami held a solo exhibition in the Palace of Versailles.1 It was a curious sight: at any given moment dozens of tourists, many of whom were Japanese, could be seen circling his works, while incessantly photographing them. Interestingly, while the organiz-ers of the show and its Western viewers thought of the celebrity-artist Murakami as the symbol of contemporary East-Asian art in the West, for many of the visiting Japanese tourists, this encounter with Murakami’s works at Versailles was their first ever. For Versailles, Murakami both provided the opportunity for a blockbuster exhibition, and contributed to the branding of the palace as a global site for the exhibition of art. In this sense, Murakami’s case reveals how the concept of globalism can be exploited in the field of contemporary art: Western curators, art dealers, collectors, and viewers embraced and nurtured Murakami and his art in the name of ‘a global era’, thus positioning themselves as active partici-pants in current globalist discourse; Murakami, in turn, recognized this ‘global era’ and turned to the Western art arena, rather than to the Japanese one, to define his art. It was in the West that he strove to be known as an artist and it was through a Western lens that he wished his art to be con-structed and read. Developing this self-orientalizing practice, Murakami, as I will suggest here, used the West’s growing interest in the East in order to enter the ‘global’ (in reality, Western) art canon.2 It is this reciprocal interest in the name of globalism, which established Murakami’s position as one of the most prominent Japanese artists in the West during the first decade of the millennium, and the subsequent adoption of his art by politic-al institutions representing Japan in the international arena, which stand at the centre of this paper.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSituating Global Art
Subtitle of host publicationTopologies - Temporalities - Trajectories
EditorsSarah Dornhof, Birgit Hopfener, Barbara Lutz , Nanne Buurman
Place of PublicationBielefeld
Publishertranscript Verlag
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9783839433973
ISBN (Print)9783837633979
StatePublished - May 2018

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