Artist Takashi Murakami Decries 'Cool Japan' Program

posted on by Jennifer Sherman
Modern artist denounces ad agencies for "simply trying to turn a profit"

The contemporary artist Takashi Murakami (Superflat Monogram, Kaikai & Kiki) criticized the "Cool Japan" campaign on his Twitter account on Friday. "Cool Japan" is a program supported by the Japanese government and various companies that promotes modern Japanese culture such as anime and manga abroad. Murakami stated that he has "absolutely no connection to 'Cool Japan.'"

The program revolves on the premise that Japan's strength in business and international affairs lies in anime, manga, films, fashion, and other fields of Japanese arts and entertainment content. The artist spoke out against advertising agencies' involvement with the initiative because he believes that they exploit the work of Japanese artists to earn a profit. He also said, "I can't understand why artists get involved with the gimmicks of ad agencies who are simply trying to turn a profit with 'Cool Japan.'" Murakami called for advertising agencies and administrators to stop inviting him to events and interviews related to the initiative.

Murakami's own art, influenced by anime, manga, and otaku culture, has appeared as part of commercial campaigns in the past. The artist has worked with Luis Vuitton to design a print for its handbag lines, and with rapper Kanye West to design an album cover and animate a music video.

Time magazine named Murakami as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2008. In 2009, Murakami created a music video titled "Akihabara Majokko Princess," directed by Terminator Salvation director McG and starring actress Kirsten Dunst. The pop artist held a controversial art exhibit in France's Chateau of Versailles in 2010 and created the "Six Hearts Princess" anime for the show. Murakami also exhibited his art in Madrid, Spain in 2010 and 2011 and in London this past summer.

Researchers at Tokyo Polytechnic University conducted a survey of Japan's public opinion on "Cool Japan" in 2010. Only 29.0% of the respondents had heard of the term, and only 4.6% said that they were familiar with what the term means. When asked about which fields they want to introduce to the world as "Cool Japan," "animation" and "manga" were the top choices.

Sources: Spoon & Tamago, Artinfo

Twitter translations via Spoon & Tamago

Image © 2010-2011 Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd.

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