PerhapsÂ no one else is more synonymous to everything Japanese, cute and kitschy than Takashi Murakami. Most renowned for his inanely grinning stylized flowers, Murakami has spread his brand of art to some of the most important art venues in the world, among them the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, Chataeu de Versailles in France, and the Serpentine Gallery in London.
Takashi Murakami was born in 1962 in Tokyo but lives and works in either Asaka, Saitama or in Brooklyn, NY. His origins perfectly positioned him to comment on the culture’s obsession on ‘cuteness’ which is evidenced by the ever-marketable characters that came from Japan — Hello Kitty, Pikachu and others. In the same vein, Murakami, who may have been inspired by Warhol and Koons has taken on the business of art by easily straddling popular art and commerce. His factory Kaikai Kiki Co produces toys and t-shirts that bear icons from his art. And who could forget the collaboration between Murakami and the fashion power house Louis Vuitton? This partnership,Â whichÂ started in 2003 and only recently concluded in the middle of this year, produced some of the most iconic bags from the fashion brand and Murakami.
Perhaps due to this wide popularity of his ventures both in art and commerce, it would be easy to dismiss Murakami as just another pop artist, lacking any depth but his work, dubbed ironically as “superflat” is informed by the same Japanese art-historical tradition that brought to the international art fore manga and anime. This flatness, Murakami suggests is also a comment on Japan’s eradication of the distinction of class, where the country’s modern society seems to do away with recognition of high and low cultures.
Written by Jing Palad
|Buying first art piece shouldn’t have to be intimidating. In fact, it should be an exciting first step to falling in love with art and eventually building a collection that is uniquely your own. Many a great collector got started as a result from the thrill of their first purchase. Following are some tips on how to navigate through the experience of your first art buy.
|1. Set aside a budget for art.
While an exclusive number of experienced collectors have huge allocations for art, not all of us have a-mile-deep pockets. However, you donâ€™t need a huge budget to venture into the pleasure that art provides. Many of the artworks that do not make the headlines areÂ well under the $2000 mark, which means if you allocate $5000 of your annual income to art, you could purchase 2 – 3 pieces every year. It’s important to ask yourself how much of your income you’d like to set aside for your first purchase/s as this will help you control spending, especially when you’re still in the early stages of collecting.
|2. Understand what’s out there.
Research. It’s not unusual for collectors to fall out of love with their early purchases as they develop their preferences. This is because the tendency to rush to buy is higher when one is just beginning to collect. As a result it is best to immerse yourself in learning when you don’t quite know what to buy yet. Take your time and visit museums, gallery openings and art school graduations. Spend some time on online art galleries to find out what is making the waves in different art circles around the world. This will hone your perspective and will help you get an idea what constitutes good, quality art. Talk to gallery owners, and make sure you don’t talk to just one gallery but several. Build a network of galleries and establish an understanding of who represents which artist at what price. You’ll be amazed at the deals you will be able to strike when you’re able to demonstrate that you’re serious about buying art.
3. Understand your own taste.
Buy what you like. During the course of your research you will find out that you like some pieces over others, that you’re drawn to a certain movement instead of others. Take note of this. This is you honing your taste and your own art preferences. This is essential especially if you’re seriously considering building an art collection. Your taste will set your collection apart from everyone else’s. The best collections in the world demonstrate a narrative that is unique to its collectors, which is why it’s ever so important to know what it is that you like and to let that guide your buying decisions.
|4. Consider the space.
Most of us start buying because there’s a wall in our house that could use an artwork or a space that looks like it needs a sculpture. If you’re buying with a specific space in mind, don’t forget the dimensions when buying a piece. A lot of artworks get sold with a space in mind but when it comes to mounting it buyers sometimes find out that the piece is too large for the wall or too heavy to be mounted properly. Also, some forget to consider the effects of direct sunlight on a piece. The result is poor installation or irreversible damage to the artwork.
Malibu 5, 2013
by Kevin Brewerton
|5. Be diligent about paperwork.
Not too long ago, my father was gifted with a very precious contemporary art work from the Philippines. It was a work from one of the country’s National Artists who has since passed away. However, aside from the artist’s signature on the piece itself, there’s not a lot else that accompanied the artwork when it was handed to him. Why is this a problem? Well, aside from making it difficult to verify the piece’s authenticity, the provenance which may eventually elevate the price of the artwork will be very difficult to establish as well. The lesson in this story is this, when buying your first artwork, do not forget to ask the artist or the gallery for a certificate of authenticity. Along with this, keep everything that’s related to the artwork – programs from the exhibition in which it was shown, receipts of purchase, articles in the newspaper or art magazine mentioning the artwork and its previous owners. If you bought the artwork from an auction, ensure that it comes with a condition report.
Written by Jing Palad