the best part

Takashi Murakami’s Art Is Really Hard to Describe

Murakami’s Tan Tan Bo Puking, a.k.a. Gero Tan (2002)©2002 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Courtesy of Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris and Miami.

Today’s Times review of Takashi Murakami’s landmark show at the Brooklyn Museum, “©Murakami,” illustrates two things very clearly: Takashi Murakami’s art is growing in quality and character every year, and Takashi Murakami’s art is really hard to describe. Roberta Smith makes a valiant effort to boil down several chaotic, crazy-ass Murakamis into words, and the results are telling:

A Daliesque apocalypse: Mr. DOB in his death throes with globs of brilliant color spilling from his jagged teeth, and strange protrusions, at once foul and gorgeous, erupting all over his enormous head. One culminates in a golden hand that meets another hand in a flash of light. And in the lower right, the Kiki stands among four Shinto staffs dangling with sacred paper that signal the soul crossing to the afterlife.

We feel sorry for Smith; not even with the fabled thousand words could you really describe Murakami’s work. No one on earth would read that description — though it’s entirely accurate — and come close to imagining how awesomely crazy the painting itself, Tan Tan Bo Puking, is; we’ve reproduced it above. After the jump, we match Smith’s frenzied descriptions with the frenzied artwork she’s reviewing. (Thanks, slideshow!)

Tongari-kun (Mr. Pointy). A Flickr slideshow of this sculpture’s installation is also viewable through July:

A space-alien, 18-armed Buddha on a lotus throne surrounded by four guardians.

An exhibition room containing Kawaii-Vacances, Flower Matango, and Cosmos:

One example is the riot of manically cheerful flowers created by the combination of wallpaper, paintings and one sculpture in a large gallery. The blooms look like petal-ringed smiley faces, only better — and crazier.

Tan Tan Bo:

Mr. DOB is reincarnated in a kaleidoscope of color whose mixture of geometric and biomorphic forms is a kind of comic summation of modernist abstraction.


Mr. DOB’s snarling head bounces on an elegant unfurling wave, against layers of sanded colors that encompass the entire spectrum, and evoke ancient screens and Warhol’s Oxidation paintings as well as atomic radiation.

Art With Baggage in Tow [NYT]
Slide Show: Murakami at the Brooklyn Museum [NYT]

Takashi Murakami’s Art Is Really Hard to Describe