Over the course of nearly three decades, Takashi Murakami (born 1962) has established himself as one of today’s most imaginative artists. Drawing influences from the aesthetics of manga, anime and other elements of contemporary pop culture, he has become renowned for instantly recognizable characters, happy-faced flowers and highly saturated colors, as well as boundary-blurring collaborations with high-profile figures in music and fashion.
“This exhibition is the result of a thoughtful conversation among three people—an artist, a scholar and a curator—who share an unwavering dedication to presenting the full narrative of Japanese art,” said Matthew Teitelbaum, Ann and Graham Gund Director. “We’re so pleased to welcome Takashi and Professor Tsuji back to the MFA to celebrate our historic collection and showcase how it can continue to resonate with contemporary artists and audiences today.”
The exhibition builds on longstanding relationships among Murakami, Tsuji and the MFA. Perhaps the most authoritative voice for Japanese art in Japan, Tsuji published the groundbreaking book Lineage of Eccentrics (1970), which has inspired generations of artists and art historians—including Murakami and Morse. As a resident scholar, Tsuji spent more than a decade working with Morse on a project to re-catalogue the Museum’s extensive collection of art from Japan, which encompasses nearly 100,000 objects. Committed to showcasing Japanese art from all genres and time periods, the MFA presented Takashi Murakami: Made in Japan in 2001, marking the artist’s first solo exhibition at a major U.S. museum. Since then, Murakami’s art has evolved with guidance from Tsuji, who has challenged the artist to gain a deeper understanding of traditional art and pressed him to undertake personally challenging projects—several examples of which are on view in Takashi Murakami: Lineage of Eccentrics.
Opening this fall at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), Takashi Murakami: Lineage of Eccentrics highlights a collaboration of a different kind, revealing how the artist’s vision is also guided by an in-depth exploration of the past, fostered by his mentor, the eminent Japanese art historian Professor Nobuo Tsuji. The exhibition, on view from October 18, 2017 through April 1, 2018, juxtaposes 12 works by Murakami with more than 30 treasures from the MFA’s unparalleled collection of Japanese art—the finest outside of Japan—selected by the artist, Tsuji and Anne Nishimura Morse, William and Helen Pounds Senior Curator of Japanese Art. Never-before-seen works include Murakami’s Transcendent Attacking a Whirlwind (2017), a large-scale painting created especially for the exhibition, and Dragon in Clouds—Red Mutation (2010), created within a 24-hour period as a response to a challenge from Tsuji. The 59-foot-long composition is displayed dramatically near its source of inspiration—the MFA’s 35-foot-long Dragon and Clouds (1763) by Soga Shōhaku, an eccentric artist deeply admired by Murakami.
An after-hours celebration on Friday, October 13—the first in the new MFA Late Nites series—offers a sneak peek of Takashi Murakami: Lineage of Eccentrics before Member Preview (October 15–17) and the public opening (October 18). Visitors are invited to share photos from the exhibition using #mfaMurakami and follow the MFA on Instagram and Twitter for chances to win Murakami-themed merchandise from the MFA Shop. Additionally, the XPass, an exclusive six-month pass, is available throughout the run of Takashi Murakami: Lineage of Eccentrics, offering free advance tickets to the MFA Late Nites and inside access to additional events and programs.