One of the foremost artists working today, Takashi Murakami is celebrated for his bold, cartoon-influenced aesthetic and his ability to navigate the worlds of art, design, and popular culture. In order to promulgate his new Japanese aesthetic,
Murakami curated a three-part series of exhibitions: Superflat (Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2001), Coloriage (Fondation Cartier pour l'art Contemporain, Paris, 2002), and Little Boy: The Art of Japan's Exploding Subcultures (Japan Society, New York, 2005), effectively theorized the style and its global import to contemporary artistic practices. Murakami capitalized on the term superflat because of its double reference to both the flat aesthetic style borrowed from manga (comic books) and anime (cartoons) as well as the overall flattening of distinction between high and low, fine and graphic arts. Another defining feature of the superflat style is its embrace of the Japanese concept of kawaii or cuteness.
Central to Murakami's deployment of kawaii is his most iconic character, Mr. DOB. A large-headed mouse-like creature with even larger ears, Mr. DOB is a composite of the popular cartoon cat from the future, Doraemon, and Sega's proprietary character, Sonic the Hedgehog. Across his face, Murakami has branded the character's name-his left ear spells "D," his face spells "O," and his right ear spells "B." Like his image, Mr. DOB's name is also a composite of pop culture references. It is a shortened reference to the phrase "dobozite, dobozite," from the 1970s manga series Inakappe taisho (Country General) in which characters when rebuked purposely mispronounce the word for "why" to garner pity. Mr. DOB has been a staple of Murakami's lexicon since 1993.
In New day DOB's Acrobatic Spectacular : Society Murakami once again visits his stock character. Four stacked DOB figures stand atop each other in a vertical procession down the center of the canvas. Teetering against a riotous backdrop of smiling cosmic flowers, they each display a different mien-astonished, maniacal, giddy, and disturbingly fanged. The composition is hypnotic with bright colors yet the all-over floral patterning serves to flatten the entire field. It is a prime example of Murakami's notion of superflat-in its harmonizing of the decorative floral background, the graphic lines, the popular sources, and critical theory.
New day DOB's Acrobatic Spectacular : Society revisits one of Murakami's earliest iterations of DOB, Pschiiit (Red), 1995. In this canvas DOB appears to float up from the foreground in a totem-like column of bubbles; the title is borrowed from the French onomatopoeia expression for the sound of carbonated air escaping from the opening of a soda bottle. In 2000, Murakami again returned to this configuration in DOB totem pole, where the same expressive DOB figures found in the present lot stand atop each other; yet in the earlier instance, the background is a grey monochrome. In the present lot Murakami has updated this earlier conceit with his addition of his most recent foray into the all-over patterning of his cosmic flowers.