“The Simple Things” will be offered on November 23 as part of the house’s inaugural Hi-Lite evening auction. The Simple Things (2008-2009), a unique sculpture created by Murakami in collaboration with the rapper, songwriter and entrepreneur Pharrell Williams, is a brilliant example of the artist’s signature style. That it is ‘one of a kind, with added celebrity factor, and fresh-to-market makes it all the more exciting’, says Asia Chiao, associate specialist in Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art.
The work has remained in the same private collection since its debut at Art Basel in 2009, and will be offered for the first time at auction on 23 November at Christie’s in Hong Kong. ‘Nothing like this by Murakami has come to market before,’ says the specialist. ‘We expect there to be a lot of excitement.’ The Simple Things is a sculptural incarnation of Murakami’s character, Mr. DOB, who has appeared in numerous guises and mediums, and has been interpreted as an alter ego of the artist. His name derives from the Japanese slang phrase ‘dobojite’, meaning ‘why’.
Japanese artist, BBC collaborator and longtime friend, Takashi Murakami, is set to present his latest exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA) tomorrow, June 6th. Titled “The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg”, the exhibition shows how Murakami’s art is rooted in traditions of Japanese painting and folklore, and highlights the artist’s careful attention to craft and materials. It also showcases the artist’s astute eye for the contemporary influences of globalization, media culture, the continued threats of nuclear power.
“The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg” will be available for preview by fans at MCA’s “ArtEdge: 50” gala, celebrating the museum’s 50th anniversary. The event will also feature a special concert curated by Pharrell Williams, including a performance by singer/songwriter and actress, Janelle Monáe. MCA “ArtEdge: 50” tickets will be sold starting June 6th, and prices will start at approximately $2,500 USD for both the gala and concert, and around $250 for just the concert. Murakami’s “The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg” will be open to the public up until September 24th.
The multi-hyphenate musician has a lesser-known empire in the design world. Over the course of a career that spans nearly three decades, Pharrell Williams—the ageless mastermind behind such chart-topping hits as “Happy” and “Blurred Lines“—has managed to secure a spot in the exclusive no-last-name-required celebrity club. And while he’s predominantly recognized for his success in the music industry, the 43-year-old Williams is something of a design connoisseur:
He’s created jewelry for Louis Vuitton, collaborated on an Art Basel–showcased piece with Takashi Murakami, and designed furniture alongside Domeau & Pérès; he also owns a museum-worthy collection of contemporary sculptures, paintings, and statues that would make Pop Art admirers weak in the knees. But it’s Williams’s streetwear-centric clothing label, Billionaire Boys Club, that’s been his primary focus of late. The brand recently unveiled a shiny new flagship in downtown Manhattan—designed by Brooklyn-based firm Snarkitecture—where shoppers can browse through a curated selection from Williams’s own line, in addition to brands like Adidas and Kanye West’s label, Yeezy.
Though Williams insists he left most of the store’s creative direction to Snarkitecture cofounder Daniel Arsham, the Grammy winner’s stamp is decidedly present. Vibrant, Murakami-designed cushions sit beside racks of neutral-hued clothing, and quirky sculptures by the artist KAWS are scattered throughout. Here, Williams chats with AD about the concept behind the flagship, his most meaningful design purchase, and the man he turns to for artistic inspiration.
Japanese artist Takashi Murakami feted his collaboration with Shu Uemura Friday night, and he even hosted a surprise guest: Pharrell Williams. The decision by Williams to attend the event, held at the upscale Omotesando Hills shopping mall, was a last-minute one, and he stayed only long enough to pose for a few photos with Murakami. Still, it was enough to get the crowd excited and the venue was buzzing about his appearance long after he was gone.
For his part, Murakami seemed to be enjoying the festive atmosphere, posing with the event models and his Jack Russell terrier at various locations throughout the venue. Dressed in a shiny purple suit and bright pink tie accented with his signature daisy flowers, he smiled and waved to both the cameras and the customers who attended the party. The event also included a live “makeup show,” in which four different artists put the finishing touches on models’ looks. Guests also could win prizes by trying their hand at mini golf and carnival-style games.
Murakami’s daisies appear on the packaging for Shu Uemura’s holiday collection, which includes eye shadow and blush palettes, cushion foundation, lipstick, eyeliner, cleansing oil and more. In Japan, the products have been combined and are sold as various sets, each of which includes a Murakami-designed bag or pouch. They will be launched in two rounds, with the first available exclusively at the brand’s Omotesando Hills flagship from Friday, and rolling out to other stores from Tuesday. The second series of products will hit stores Nov. 16.
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