There is a zone of supremacy in the art world and there is a sense that fine art is the most precious and has the highest status. My collaboration with Virgil is trying to create something that is completely outside of that framework.
Satire and irony are looming themes that are part of our now. Our dialogue is not so much embedded in the art; it’s embedded in the atmosphere that we’re creating.
Gagosian is pleased to present new works by Takashi Murakami and Virgil Abloh, following future history at Gagosian London, and “TECHNICOLOR 2” at Gagosian Paris.
Murakami and Abloh have created an art, media, and production collaboration in layered paintings, large-scale sculptures, and the merging of their respective trademarks and brand names. Multihyphenate cult figures in their fields, they push against the parameters of fashion, art, and popular culture, provocatively blurring the lines between them.
In his protean oeuvre, Murakami draws from sources as diverse as classical Japanese painting, otaku subculture, Western art theory, Hollywood cinema, and hip-hop. His expansive art production spills over into fashion, film, and commercial commodities both luxurious and inexpensive, eschewing entrenched divisions between high art and popular culture.
Abloh, trained as an architect and engineer, works across fashion, architecture, performance, and consumer products, often deconstructing the creative process in public to challenge and analyze existing aesthetic systems and their distribution. His street-couture label Off-White, which he founded in 2013, combines conventional tailoring with more subversive references, while his role as the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear places his current design work in dialogue with Murakami’s celebrated collaborations with Vuitton, beginning in 2002.
For “AMERICA TOO” Murakami and Abloh have produced works in which their respective styles and trademarks intersect in a stream of freewheeling, punkish mash-ups. The two artists, kindred spirits from different sectors of a broader cultural zone, reflect incisively on the signs of the current times while working to disrupt the stratifications of cultural production.
A series of new paintings borrows motifs from both Murakami’s and Abloh’s individual work histories and combines them with art-historical imagery. The signature arrows of Abloh’s label Off-White are overlaid onto Murakami’s iconic rainbow flower, stenciled canvases in gradations of color, and images of Mr. DOB, the whimsical character that became Murakami’s first signature creation inspired by anime and manga characters. Bernini’s Self-Portrait as a Young Man (1623) dissolves in a psychedelic swirl of color, in which traces of Mr. DOB transform the youthful silhouette of the Baroque artist. A series of sculptures that are composites of each artist’s trademark becomes oversize, glossy, and almost threateningly sanguine. Human-scale plastic iterations of the flower and arrows repeat, this time in three-dimensional media.