Takashi Murakami, ‘Yoshiko and the Creatures from Planet 66’, 2008, Martin Lawrence Galleries

The Planet 66 characters were invented by Murakami to advertise real-estate mogul Minoru Mori's Tokyo real estate development Roppongi Hills. Mori had called on Murakami to replace a major Japanese ad agency just four months before his center's 2003 opening, and the artist devised a family of smiley creatures from "Planet 66" to serve as mascots for the complex. Presided over by a not-so-veiled portrait of Mori himself in the form of a cuddly salamander whose name, Shachō, means "president" in Japanese, the characters were turned into sculptures to adorn the Roppongi Hills main entrance and appear in the center's promotional literature and signage, in addition to starring in animated television advertisements and decorating a line of briskly selling souvenirs. - Scott Rothkopf "Takashi Murakami: Company Man" ©Murakami

Image rights: Martin Lawrence Galleries

About Takashi Murakami

One of the most acclaimed artists to emerge from postwar Asia, Takashi Murakami—“the Warhol of Japan”—is known for his contemporary Pop synthesis of fine art and popular culture, particularly his use of a boldly graphic and colorful anime and manga cartoon style. Murakami became famous in the 1990s for his “Superflat” theory and for organizing the paradigmatic exhibition of that title, which linked the origins of contemporary Japanese visual culture to historical Japanese art. His output includes paintings, sculptures, drawings, animations, and collaborations with brands such as Louis Vuitton. “Japanese people accept that art and commerce will be blended; and in fact, they are surprised by the rigid and pretentious Western hierarchy of “high art’,” Murakami says. “In the West, it certainly is dangerous to blend the two because people will throw all sorts of stones. But that’s okay—I’m ready with my hard hat.”

Japanese, b. 1962, Tokyo, Japan, based in Tokyo, Japan