After working for British Vogue for several years, Platon was invited to New York to work for the late John Kennedy Jr. and his political magazine, ‘George.’


Shooting portraits for a number of international publications, including Rolling Stone, New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, Esquire, GQ and Sunday Times Magazine, Platon has developed a special relationship with Time Magazine, producing over 20 covers for them. In 2007, he photographed Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on the cover of Time Magazine’s Person Of The Year. This picture was awarded the 1st prize at the World Press Photo Contest.


He signed a multi-year contract with the New Yorker in 2008. As a staff photographer, he has produced a number of large-scale photo essays, two of which won the ASME Awards in 2009 and 2010. Platon’s New York portfolios focused on themes such as the U.S. military, portraits of world leaders, and the Civil Rights Movement.


In 2009, Platon teamed up with Human Rights Watch to help celebrate those who are fighting for equality and justice in countries that have been suppressed by political forces.



 These projects have highlighted human rights defenders from Burma and leaders of the Egyptian revolution.


Following his coverage of Burma, Platon photographed Aung San Suu Kyi for Time-days after her release from house arrest. In 2011, Platon was honored with the Peabody Award for the Russian Civil Society collaboration with The New Yorker Magazine and Human Rights Watch.


 Platon has published four books of his work: PLATON’S REPUBLIC [Phaidon Press, 2004], a retrospective of his early work; POWER [Chronicle, 2011], a hundred portraits of the most powerful leaders in the world; CHINA: THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS [The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2015], in collaboration with The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and SERVICE [Prestel, 2016], dedicated to men and women in the U.



 Platon is a communicator and storyteller, represented by the Washington Speakers Bureau. He was invited to be a keynote speaker on leadership at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Chanel, Nike, Yale University, Oxford University, Wharton University, the National Portrait Gallery in London and the New York International Photography Centre. He has also appeared on a number of television media including Charlie Rose (PBS), Morning Joe (MSNBC), Fareed Zakaria’s GPS (CNN) and BBC World News.


Platon’s work has been exhibited both domestically and abroad in galleries and museums. He has exhibited at the Matthew Marks Gallery and the Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York, as well as internationally at the Colette Gallery in Paris, France. The New York Historical Society has shown a solo exhibition of Platon’s Civil Rights photographs, which remain part of the Museum’s permanent collection. Platon’s permanent photography collections include the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts in Tampa, Florida, and the Westlicht Museum of Photography in Vienna, Austria, and the Scotland National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh. 


In 2013, Platon founded a non-profit foundation called The People’s Portfolio. The Foundation aims to create a visual language that breaks barriers, increases dignity, fights discrimination and encourages the public to promote human rights around the world. He serves as Creative Director at the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, GA.


Platon is currently on the Arts and Culture Board of the World Economic Forum and serves as the Director of the Economic Growth and Social Inclusion Initiative.

Platon’s life work is the subject of the Netflix documentary, Abstract: The Art of Design. 




His first film, My Body Is Not A Weapon, features survivors of wartime sexual violence and 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Denis Mukwege.










Early life

Jean was born in Taiwan, raised in New Jersey. During his early education, he studied different modes of creative expression, including piano and trumpet. He attended the School of Visual Arts in New York City, where he graduated in 2001.



Early career

In 2001, Jean became a cover artist for DC Comics and Marvel Comics, receiving seven Eisner awards, three consecutive Harvey awards, two gold and silver medals from the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles, and a gold medal from the Society of Illustrators of New York. He has also worked in advertisement and has contributed to several national and foreign publications. His clients included Time Magazine, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Spin, ESPN, Atlantic Records, Aim, Linkin Park, Playboy, Knopf and Prada, among others. He illustrated covers for the comic book series Fables and The Umbrella Academy, for which he received six Eisner Awards for Best Cover Artist. In 2006, he won the World Fantasy Awards for Best Artist. He also made the album art for My Chemical Romance’s album The Black Parade, which was released in 2006.

Present career


In 2008, Jean withdrew from illustrative ventures to concentrate on drawing. Combining abstract figuration with loose, gestural marks, Jean creates layered compositions that evoke personal or collective experience. Dream-like and at times disorienting, his work expresses narratives unbound in time or space, drawing on art historical contexts ranging from baroque painting patterns to Japanese woodblock prints and Chinese silk scroll paintings.



Sketchbooks have preserved a critical place in Jean’s practice, solidifying the significance of the strict academic emphasis of visual arts studies throughout his tenure at the art school. In favor of the freedom found in sketches during his youth, Jean embraced sketches as a way of exploring figures and inventive animals, synthesizing doodles, line drawings and journalistic features with more refined black-and-white and color compositions. For Jean, sketchbooks are spaces for exploration or research, and for completed works of art in their own right.




In 2007, Jean created a mural for the stores of Prada Epicenter in New York and Los Angeles. He also set the scene for the Prada Spring/Summer 2008 show in Milan. Aspects of the Epicenter mural and Milan wallpaper have been turned into clothes, handbags, shoes and packaging. Prada launched a global campaign showcasing Jean’s work in advertising environments, animation, and special events.

In 2008, Jean again collaborated with Prada to create an animated short focused on wallpapers, clothing and accessories created in 2007. He wrote, narrated, and did visual animation creation, eventually titled “Trembled Blossoms,” taken from the poem “Ode to Psyche,” by John Keats.Jean reunited with Prada to create prints for his Resort 2018 collection. He described the visual effect as a “tangle of floral elements occasionally populated and overrun by rabbits.” Prada brought the collection to Shah 2018.

Jean’s photographs were used for the Menswear range of the company SS2018. His work also acted as a set design for the premiere of the collection in Via Fogazzaro. Jean’s partnership with Prada brought visuals influenced by highfashion graphic novels, combining the superhuman with the human, and a wink to the thick black lines that separate the illustration panels.

Film artwork


The Blade Runner of 2049. As part of his artistic process, Jean has worked closely with both Darren Aronofsky and Guillermo del Toro. Del Toro, a long-time fan of Jean’s work, describes his drawings as having “a delicate nature to them and beautiful line work that is at the same time realistic and sort of elevated into a style of his own.” Jean’s posters evoke the tone and atmosphere of each film without blatantly revealing portrayals of the story. The Blade Runner of 2049. As part of his artistic process, Jean has worked closely with both Darren Aronofsky and Guillermo del Toro. Del Toro, a long-time fan of Jean’s work, describes his drawings as having “a delicate nature to them and beautiful line work that is at the same time realistic and sort of elevated into a style of his own.” Jean’s posters evoke the tone and atmosphere of each film without blatantly revealing portrayals of the story.

Notable exhibitions

Jean’s first solo exhibition was held in 2009 at Jonathan LeVine (then based in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York), followed in 2011 by “Rebus,” a solo show at the Martha Otero Gallery (at the time located in the Fairfax district in Los Angeles).

In 2013, Jean’s art was the subject of “Parallel Lives,” a solo exhibition at the Tilton Gallery in New York City. The exhibition, covering both floors of the museum, debuted a new body of work that combined personal with common themes and realism with mythology. Its title, taken from Plutarch’s “Lives of the Noble Greens and Romans,” also known as “Parallel Lives,” examines the tension generated by “parallels” in the show of paired works.

Jean’s work was part of “Juxtapoz x Superflat,” organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2016. The group show, organized by artist Takashi Murakami and Juxtapoz editor Evan Pricco, brought together artists whose works had been included in the magazine and who had participated in or expanded into Murakami’s postmodern art movement Superflat. Jean’s “Bouquet” drawing served as a marquee for the show. For “Azimuth,” a solo exhibition at the Kaikai Kiki Gallery in Tokyo in 2018, Jean displayed drawings, paintings and the installation of illuminated stained glass works he created at Judson Studios.The show centered on the radiance of color and light, with works driven by a force of optimism and innocence, informed in part by the joy of the artist’s son

Lotte Museum of Art

The Lotte Museum of Art in Seoul hosted “Eternal Journey,” in 2019, a major retrospective of Jean’s work. More than 500 works were included in the exhibition, including large-scale paintings, sculptures, installations, visual art, 150 comic book covers and more than 200 sketches that were the inspiration for many of the works included. Nine large-scale paintings explored the concept of obangsaek, or the five fundamental or cardinal colors, a typical color scheme symbolic of the order of the universe.

Collaborating once again with Judson Studios, the oldest family-owned stained-glass maker in the US,[27] Jean built Gaia-Yellow Earth Center (2019), the centerpiece of the Lotte Museum of Art exhibition. The sculpture builds on his earlier explorations of “Azimuth,” stained glass, adding his visual language to the conventional medium. Over eight feet in height, the illuminated sculpture, which incorporates water jet cutting, hand and airbrush painting and fused glass, portrays the goddess Gaia with a slinking tiger in an all-round composition of natural and geometrical elements.

The exhibition was on display from 4 April to 1 September 2019 and is followed by an exhibition catalog with essays by Yoon-Kyung Kwon, Chief Curator at Lotte Museum of Art; Hee-Kyung Song, Art Historian and Professor at Ewha Womans University; and Christopher James Alexander, Architecture, Art and Design Consultant, Principal of CJA Artistic Collaborations.



In 2008, Jean partnered with AIDES, a French non-profit community group dedicated to the fight against HIV/AIDS, in their print advertisement campaign on the theme “Explore, Just Protect Yourself.” Jean’s print campaign was awarded the Bronze Lion at the 2008 Cannes Advertising Festival.









Over the last five years, more than 5 million museum visitors have queued – and queued up a few more – for a quick glimpse of Yayoi Kusama’s work. The 89-year-old Japanese artist, who has stayed willingly in a mental hospital for the past 41 years, has had large-scale solo exhibits of her work in Mexico City, Rio, Seoul, Taiwan and Chile, as well as big tour exhibitions in the US and Europe. Last year, she opened her own five-story gallery in Tokyo. The Large Museum in Los Angeles recently sold 90,000 $25 tickets in the afternoon to its Kusama show, leading the LA Times to ask if the artist was “Hotter than Hamilton?”

As the numbers have gone up, so the time that any visitor will spend in Kusama’s installations—the interactive “infinity mirror rooms” with colored lights and painted pumpkins and polka dots that represent forever—has gone down. In 2013, the David Zwirner Gallery in New York reduced time slots to 45 seconds for each viewer. Five years later, tourists to the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., who had been queuing for more than two hours, were down to half a minute.

When did this happen to you? The most obvious single word to answer is “Instagram.” People – hundreds of thousands of them (see #YayoiKusama or #InfiniteKusama) – take pictures of themselves in Kusama’s special spatial wonderland and share the results. Many contemporary art galleries are currently discussing the concept of an exhibition as a “experience” of uploadable social media. Kusama – in creating a concept that she first proposed in New York in 1966 – has already cornered the market. Kusama confidently took the decision to leave Japan to go to New York though that was a fairly surprising thing to do. Heather Lenz, Director Speaking on the phone last week, Lenz admitted that the smartphone-friendly nature of the job is obviously part of the draw – but said it could only lead to a deeper understanding of Kusama’s career.

“Most people have seen her work on Instagram,” Lenz says, “but when they hear what she has had to do to achieve the success that has eluded her for so long, they just have to do with it. We did a few screenings, and while most people knew about the job, only two people in the audience knew, for example, that she was staying in a psychiatric hospital.” Lenz’s film shows how Kusama’s life was, if anything, more extensive than her obsessive work, and how one tells the other. It does no harm as a tale of perseverance and victory that it falls into the tidy chapters of Kusama’s self-transformation.

In the first of these, Kusama’s childhood, the curious seeds of the art world’s favorite selfie-craze were seeded. Kusama was born into a wealthy family in rural Japan who operated extensive plant nurseries, growing varieties of violets and peonies and zinnias to be sold all over the world. From a very young age, Kusama would take her sketchbook down to the seed-harvesting grounds and sit among the flowers until, as in a fairy tale of the kind of Grimm, one day she saw the flowers crowding in and talking to her. “I thought that only humans could talk, so I was shocked that the violets used words. I was so frightened that my legs started trembling.” This was the first in a series of terrifying hallucinations – she calls them depersonalizations – that haunted her childhood. These episodes seem to have been linked to the dislocations of her home life. Kusama grew up in a very dysfunctional household. Her father was a philander, and her mother sent Kusama to spy on him with her mistresses, but when she reported back, she recalls in her autobiography, “My mother was going to vent all her rage on me.”

“My mother was against me being an artist. She just wanted me to marry a rich man.” 

Her mother tried to stop Kusama from painting – ripping the canvas out of her hands and smashing it – demanding that she learned etiquette to make a successful marriage. Kusama kept drawing. It was her way of making sense of her hallucinations: the flowers of the tablecloth that enveloped her and chased her upstairs; the unexpected shimmering of the sky. “When things like this happened, I would hurry back home and draw what I saw in my sketchbook… recording them helped to ease the shock and fear of the episodes,” she remembers.

It seems that many of the motifs that have become her trademarks have been embedded in this tradition. The first Kusama pumpkin to see was with her grandfather. When she went to pick it up, she started talking to her. It was the size of the head of a guy. She decorated the pumpkin and received an award for it, her first 11-year-old. Eighty years later, her biggest silver pumpkin sculptures were sold for $500,000.

After the assault on Pearl Harbor, when Kusama was 13, she was forced to work in a factory making parachute fabrics. She painted intricate flowers over and over throughout the evening. In a notice of her first show, the local paper reported her producing 70 aquarelles a day

Watching the stills of Kusama’s early life in Lenz’s documentary – her hair cut straight across her forehead, photographed between flowers – is a sharp and moving contrast to the footage of the artist at work in her studio. The same slightly bulbous eyes look out from under the red wig as she connects her dots with a magic marker, chewing her lip like a girl. “To me,” Lenz says, “Kusama’s childhood trauma was instrumental in her work, not only because of her difficult family, but also because of her society and the nightmare of the Second World War.”

Lenz came to understand these stresses more profoundly because, when making a film, she married from a Japanese family and heard the story of her husband’s grandfather, killed by the Hiroshima bomb, and her mother-and father-in-law, who had an arranged marriage. “That gave me a better understanding of her childhood,” she says. “The standards of the time for a young woman, an arranged marriage, children. Kusama confidently took the decision to leave Japan and go to New York though it was a fairly surprising thing to do.”

The second chapter of Kusama’s journey started when she first visited Georgia O’Keeffe’s work in a bookshop in Matsumoto, her hometown. She found O’Keeffe’s address in New Mexico, and wrote to her for advice on how to make her way into the art world of New York, sending some of her own intricate aquariums of abstract vegetal shapes and bursting seed pods. O’Keeffe answered, puzzled at first why anyone, let alone a young woman in rural Japan, would want to do such a thing, but the interest has grown over a number of years into a kind of mentorship. “The artist has a hard time making a living in this country,” O’Keeffe answered. “You’re just going to have to find the best way you can.”

Kusama arrived in New York in 1958, at the age of 27, with a few hundred dollars sewn in the linen of her dresses, along with 60 kimonos of silk and some sketches. Her intention was to survive the sale of one or the other. In her own account, she initially subsisted on food scraps, including fish heads scavenged from the fishmonger’s trash, which she boiled for soup. She’s been following her job around the area. “One day,” she recalls in her autobiography, “I brought a canvas more than 40 blocks in the streets of Manhattan to present it for consideration at the Whitney Annual. My painting was not chosen, and I had to take it back 40 blocks. The wind was blowing hard that day, and more than once it looked as though the canvas was floating up into the air, taking me with it. When I got home, I was so tired that I slept like a dead man for two days.”

Her breakthrough pieces, the Infinity Net paintings, originated from an earlier collection of aquariums called the Pacific Ocean, which she had made in response to the tracery of waves on the surface of the sea when she first flew from Tokyo. The nets she painted were made of a repetitive singular impasto gesture in small circles, like interlocking scales; the longest canvases were 30ft in length. One of these canvases sold for $7.1m in 2014, a record for a living female artist. The first ones she sold for $75 to fellow artists Frank Stella and Donald Judd in 1962.

Judd and Kusama have been living in the same building on 19th Street in Manhattan for a while. “She’d sit around my apartment and talk, or I’d go down there and talk,” Judd said in a 1988 interview. “She must have worked through the night, as far as I could tell. Most of the paintings were done in one take. I don’t understand how she’d be able to do that, but she’d start in the corner and then go over.” One of the startling aspects about seeing Lenz’s film is the way Kusama appeared to be written out of the history of pop art. There was a period in the 1960s when she shared nearly equal billing – and popularity – with the likes of Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg. Part of this eclipse seems to have been by design – Kusama has long said that the Waspish men around her appropriated her original ideas and moved away as their own.

In 1963, she began to create chairs and other objects decorated, fungi-like, with white painted phallic shapes made of stuffed fabric; her piece of resistance was a rowing boat, complete with oars, which she and Judd rescued from a junkyard. It was presented in a box-like room, the walls, the ceiling and the floor of which were papered with 999 silk-screen images of the phallic ship. She saw this as her own private aversion therapy.

“I started making penises to heal my feelings of disgust with sex,” she wrote later. “My fear was the hide-in-the-closet-trembling sort. I was told that sex was filthy, shameful, something to hide. Complicating matters even more was all the talk of ‘healthy families’ and ‘arranged marriages’ and the utter resistance to romantic love… I also experienced a sex act when I was a toddler, and the terror that came through my eye blew up inside me.” There is a grim irony in this act of therapy in that Oldenburg seems to have embraced her soft sculpture technique and Warhol’s repeated wallpaper prints. She was desperate at the way the men around her sought fame for her theories.

Lenz’s film aims to reveal this appropriation. “Every single Q&A I get a question about how true the allegations that these white male artists stole her ideas were,” Lenz says. “Obviously, I’ve reviewed all the dates, and they’re all working out like she said. People who had degrees in art history always questioned this, though; it was as if they didn’t want to change their mind. They know what they know, I suppose.” Kusama saw something like her ideal man in Joseph Cornell, the reclusive genius of the outer world of art, the founder of surreal boxes of found objects, and a man who had always lived with his mother in the 1950s. Cornell became fascinated with Kusama, giving her a dozen poems a day, never hanging from a phone call, so he was there when she picked it up. This was her only known romantic relationship, though, “he didn’t like sex, and I didn’t like sex, so we weren’t having sex.” He wasn’t a very easy guy. 

"I, Kusama, am the modern Alice in Wonderland."



Takashi Murakami
Takashi Murakami

Takashi Murakami


Born In 1962, Murakami’s father was a taxi driver, and he was a homemaker for his mother. His mother, who studied needlepoint and designed textiles, had an immense effect on the interest of Murakami in the arts. He also made his parents compose reviews of exhibitions he had attended. He was forced to go to bed without dinner if he refused. Raised in such a highly competitive environment, Murakami quickly learned how to think and compose. His later fame as an acerbic art critic was partially informed by these abilities.

Murakami grew up hearing his mother reassure him that he would not have been born had the U.S. dropped another nuclear bomb. In the decades following WWII, the omnipresence of the destruction and the subsequent U.S. presence in Japan had a profound impact on the artistic evolution of Murakami. Japan created a national identity during Murakami’s childhood that resurrected traditional Japanese culture and imposed immense pressure on its population to produce in order to compete both economically and culturally with the West. Murakami’s childhood hobbies, which ranged from attending Buddhist rituals and taking Japanese calligraphy courses to visiting museum exhibits of masters such as Renoir and Goya, reflected this hybrid focus on traditional Japanese culture and Western influences.

While he developed an early appreciation of both traditional Japanese culture and modern European art, during his formative teenage years, Japanese animation had the most important influence on him. This explains why a large part of his works are devoted to the otaku audience, a subculture obsessed with dystopian and fetishistic imagery. In anime and manga, these recurrent motifs coincide with the reluctance or even unwillingness of otaku supporters to engage in the real world or apply social skills. The otaku subculture is related directly to post-WWII Japanese society by Murakami himself.

Early Training and Work

Initially interested in studying animation background art, Murakami enrolled in the department of the prestigious Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in 1980 in the nihonga (a traditional Japanese painting style that draws on elements of Western art), where he remained for a master’s degree (completed in 1988) and a doctoral degree (completed in 1993). He also studied animation production outside of school while diligently learning the old techniques at university, and continued his knowledge of the contemporary art world through visiting exhibits and the visiting artist program of his school.

Initially interested in studying animation background art, Murakami enrolled in the department of the prestigious Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in the nihonga (a traditional Japanese painting style that draws on elements of Western art) in 1980, where he remained for a master’s degree (completed in 1988) and a doctoral degree (completed in 1993). He also studied animation creation outside of school while diligently learning the old techniques at university, and continued his knowledge of the contemporary art world through visits to exhibits and the visiting artist program of his school.

The early works of Murakami show the realities he grew up with, exploring Japan’s complicated post-WWII relationship with the U.S. Polyrhythm (1991), for instance, uses plastic World War II toy soldiers, refers to the atomic bomb in Sea Breeze (1992). These works display his early development of a style that is humorous and seemingly light, often referring to a more cynical place.

Mature Period

In 1994, Murakami traveled to New York City on a fellowship from the Asian Cultural Council to participate in the International Studio Program of the P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center. Murakami, alone and fairly depressed in New York, was surrounded by the demands of the gallery system and the American art market. There, he realized that he had to abandon his excessively intellectual Japanese concerns in order to survive in this world, and to show a more simplistic brand of himself and his art as quintessentially Japanese. Therefore, this moment marks a radical turning point in his career. Previously, his work focused on a global bent on contemporary art, but it was during this visit that he decided to re-engage with his Japanese identity and strengthen his commitment to both the high-quality art form of nihonga and the popular culture of anime and manga. On the eve of his departure from New York, while playing a late-night word game with friends using non-sensical words like “dobozite” (a manga word meaning “why?”), Murakami came up with the figure of Mr. DOB, who would later become the artist’s signature character across his diverse array of artistic media. Previously, his work focused on a global bent on contemporary art, but it was during this visit that he decided to re-engage with his Japanese identity and strengthen his commitment to both the high-quality art form of nihonga and the popular culture of anime and manga. On the eve of his departure from New York, while playing a late-night word game with friends using non-sensical words like “dobozite” (a manga word meaning “why?”), Murakami came up with the figure of Mr. DOB, who would later become the artist’s signature character across his diverse array of artistic media.

In order to produce his otaku-inspired sculptures, Murakami founded the Hiropon Factory in 1996. Like many of Murakami’s works, his factory is modeled on both traditional Japanese art workshops, such as those that produced colorful woodblock prints from the Edo period, and on Andy Warhol’s Factory. At Hiropon, assistants trained in various areas of expertise work together under the artist’s supervision for large-scale, mass-market projects. In 2001, the Hiropon Factory became Kaikai Kiki Co., a highly organized company with about fifty employees in its Tokyo headquarters, and twenty in its New York office and studio. Apart from producing and marketing Murakami’s works, the corporation promotes new artists; operates art fairs; organizes collaborative projects with individuals and companies in the fields of fashion, music and entertainment; and develops animated videos and films. Kaikai Kiki represents a shift in the production of modern artwork, where fine art and commerce are seamlessly integrated, and where the physical hand of the artist in the making of the artwork no longer determines the financial value, but rather the symbolic value is created through an artist’s association with the art-commodities produced in his business-oriented factory. Now the corporation employs as many as 60 full time employees in its Tokyo location, and more than 20 in New York.

In 2000, in search of the Japanese post-war identity and out of frustration with his compatriots’ indifference to Japanese contemporary art, Murakami presented Superflat’s theory in a group exhibition of the same name. The exhibition included his own works as well as those by Yoshitomo Nara, Shigeyoshi Ohi, Aya Takano and others. Superflat theory soon swept across the world of contemporary art, becoming a landmark movement in contemporary Japanese art, the latest major style to be internationally acclaimed in the art world since the 1950s by the Japanese Gutai group.

Murakami’s historic essay, “A Theory of Super Flat Japanese Art” (2000), is the ultimate expression of his early disdain for the art world. It expresses the desire to create a uniquely Japanese art form that is directly related to the long shadow of Japan’s trauma after the humiliating defeat of the Second World War. This essay seeks to extract the very core of Japanese post-war culture in order to use it as a foundational philosophy for his works of art. As Pico Iyer points out, Murakami “is a realistic chronicler of the flight from the real. And just as Andy Warhol decided to give modern America exactly the glut of mass production and mass celebrity that he seemed so intent on, with vengeance, so Murakami offered Japan precisely the images that he loves, in his fondness for the kawaii and those deviant forms that he loved the otaku.” The Japanese version of this essay shows a vitriolic anti-Americanism, while his English translations focus on it.

His epic Superflat thesis aims to seamlessly unite the history of Japanese art from 12th and 13th -century Genji and Heiji scrolls with contemporary Japanese pop-culture. Despite his art-historical and culturally-rich referents in his art, essays, manifestos, and interviews, people are often immediately drawn to his work for its seeming superficiality and dazzling explosion of characters and colors. This paradox between the profound meaning and the immediate pleasure enjoyed by his audience directly expresses of the fluid nature of his Superflat concept.

Current Practice

Since the founding of the Hiropon Factory, Murakami’s projects have been more commercially charged and explored unconventional artistic media, including fashion, music, entertainment, public installations, animation and film. This shift between roles reveals Murakami’s ambition to redefine what a postmodern, international artist can be.

In 2002, at the invitation of designer Marc Jacobs, Murakami began a long-term collaboration with the elite fashion brand Louis Vuitton. Murakami was able to tweak the brand to incorporate its own unique aesthetics without losing its identity in the LV project. For example, he combined LV’s monogram with his own signature jellyfish eyes, or he overprinted the monogram with his cartoon cherries. This collaboration made Murakami widely known for further blurring of commercial boundaries, elevated Murakami’s status to fame in his home country, and raised the economic value of his art to one that is highly valued among (mostly Western) collectors.

His fame in the fashion world also swept across the pop music industry. In 2007, Murakami designed the Dropout Bear character for Kanye West’s Graduation album, and directed an animated video for West’s Good Morning song. His collections in the world of pop music include South Korean superstar G-Dragon and Pharrell Williams, who also collaborated with Murakami in 2009 and 2014. Murakami later “re-appropriated” these projects by incorporating the identical imagery into his paintings and sculptures meant for prestigious art institutions or influential collectors.

Takashi Murakami
村上 隆





Tim walker


 Walker’s photos have reached Vogue readers for more than a decade, month after month. His unmistakable style is characterized by lavish staging and dramatic motifs. After 15 years of emphasis on photographic stills, Walker is now also making moving video.

Born in England in 1970, Walker’s interest in photography began at the Condé Nast library in London where he worked on the Cecil Beaton archive for a year before university. After a three-year BA Honors degree in Photography at Exeter College of Art, Walker was awarded third prize as The Independent Young Photographer Of The Year.

Upon graduation in 1994, Walker worked as a freelance photographic assistant in London before moving to New York City as a full time assistant to Richard Avedon. When he returned to England, he initially concentrated on portrait and documentary work for British newspapers. At the age of 25 he shot his first fashion story for Vogue, and has photographed for the British, Italian, and American editions, as well as W Magazine and LOVE Magazine ever since.

Walker staged his first major exhibition at the Design Museum, London in 2008. This coincided with the publication of his book ‘Pictures’ published by teNeues.

In 2010 Walker’s first short film, ‘The Lost Explorer’ was premiered at Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland and went on to win best short film at the Chicago United Film Festival, 2011.

2012 saw the opening of Walker’s ‘Story Teller’ photographic exhibition at Somerset House, London. The exhibition coincided with the publication of his book, ‘Story Teller’ published by Thames and Hudson. In a 2013 collaboration with Lawrence Mynott and Kit Hesketh-Harvey, he also released The Granny Alphabet, a unique collection of portraiture and illustration celebrating grandmothers.




Walker received the ‘Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator’ from The British Fashion Council in 2008 as well as the Infinity Award from The International Center of Photography in 2009. In 2012 Walker received an Honorary Fellowship from the Royal Photographic Society.

The Victoria & Albert Museum and the National Portrait Gallery in London include Walker’s photographs in their permanent collections.

Tim lives in London



Keith Haring


Keith Haring


Born in Pennsylvania, on May 4, 1958, and was brought up in nearby Kutztown, Pennsylvania. At a very early age, he developed a passion for drawing, learning basic skills in cartooning from his father and from the popular culture around him, such as Dr. Seuss and Walt Disney. Upon graduation from high school in 1976, Haring enrolled in a commercial arts school, the Ivy School of Professional Art in Pittsburgh. He soon discovered he had no interest in becoming a commercial graphic artist and dropped out after two semesters. Haring continued to research and practice on his own while in Pittsburgh, and in 1978 he had a solo exhibition of his work at the Pittsburgh Arts and Crafts Ce.

Haring moved to New York City later the same year and enrolled in the School of Visual Arts (SVA). Haring found a vibrant alternative art culture in New York that formed in the downtown streets, the subways and spaces in clubs and former dance halls outside of the gallery and museum system. He became acquainted with fellow artists Kenny Scharfand,JeanMichel Basquiat here, as well as with the musicians, performance artists and graffiti writers that made up the burgeoning art  scene. In the energy and spirit of this scene, Haringwas swept up and started organizing and engaging in exhibits and performances at Club 57 and other alternate venues

Haring was also influenced by the work of Jean Dubuffet, Pierre Alechinsky, William Burroughs, Brion Gysin and Robert Henri’s The Art Spirit manifesto, which proclaimed the artist’s fundamental freedom, in addition to being fascinated by the creativity and energy of his contemporaries. Haring was able to drive his own youthful instincts with these influences into a singular kind of graphic language focused on the line’s primacy. Haring was also drawn to the public and participatory nature of the work of Christo, especially Running Fence, and to the unusual fusion of art and life by Andy Warhol, and was determined to devote his career to the development of a genuinely public art


Haring experimented with performance, video, installation and collage as a student at SVA, while still maintaining a strong dedication to drawing. In 1980, when he found the unused advertisement panels covered in matte black paper in a metro station, Haring discovered a highly efficient medium that enabled him to connect with the wider audience he wanted. On these blank paper panels in the subway system, he started making sketches in white chalk. Between 1980 and 1985, in swift rhythmic lines, Haring created hundreds of these public drawings,

Often making as many as forty “subway drawings” in one day. New York commuters became acquainted with this smooth flow of images, which often stopped engaging the artist when they met him at work. As Haring said, the subway became a “laboratory” to try out his ideas and to play with his simple lines.

Haring gained international recognition between 1980 and 1989 and took part in several group and solo exhibitions. His first solo show in New York was held in 1981 at Westbeth Painters Space. With an enormously successful and critically acclaimed one-man show at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery, he made his SoHo gallery debut in 1982. He also took part in renowned international survey exhibitions during this time, such as Documenta 7 in Kassel; the São Paulo Biennial; and the Whitney Biennial. In the first half of the 80’s, Haring also completed various public ventures, ranging from an animation for the Spectacular billboard in Times Square, designing sets and backdrops for theaters and clubs, producing Swatch watch designs and an Absolut vodka advertisement campaign, and creating murals worldwide.

Haring opened the Pop Shop in April 1986, a Soho retail store selling T-shirts, toys, posters, buttons and magnets bearing his pictures. In an abstract black on white mural, Haring found the shop to be an extension of his work and painted the whole interior of the building, creating a striking and special retail atmosphere. The aim of the store was to give customers greater access to his work, which was now readily accessible for low-cost items. The shop faced criticism from many in the art community, but Haring remained committed to his desire to make his artwork accessible to as large an audience as possible and received strong encouragement from colleagues, fans and mentors, including Andy Warhol, for his project.

I don’t think art is propaganda; it should be something that liberates the soul, provokes the imagination and encourages people to go further. It celebrates humanity instead of manipulating it.

In 1988, Haring was diagnosed with AIDS. In 1989, he founded the Keith Haring Foundation, whose mandate is to provide AIDS organizations and children’s services with funding and imagery and to extend the audience through exhibits, publications and the licensing of his photographs for Haring’s work. During the last years of his life, Haring enlisted his imagery to talk about his own disease and create AIDS advocacy and awareness.

The work of Haring was featured in over 100 solo and group exhibitions during a brief yet intense career that spanned the 1980s. He was the subject of over 40 newspaper and magazine publications in 1986 alone. He was widely sought after, collaborating with artists and performers as diverse as Madonna, Grace Jones, Bill T. Jones, William Burroughs, Timothy Leary, Jenny Holzer, Yoko Ono and Andy Warhol, to engage in collaborative ventures. Haring was able to draw a large audience and ensure the accessibility and lasting power of his imagery, which has become a widely accepted visual language of the 20th century, by communicating universal concepts of life, death, love, sex and war, using the primacy of line and directness of message.


On February 16, 1990, Keith Haring died of AIDS related complications at the age of 31. On May 4, 1990, a memorial service took place at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, attended by over 1,000 people.

Haring has been the subject of many international retrospectives since his death. Keith Haring’s work can be seen in the galleries and collections of major museums across the globe today.