Takashi Murakami, Jellyfish Eyes Cream, 2001. Courtesy of DTR Modern Galleries.

Contemporary Japanese Art

“We wouldn’t be able to study Japanese art, it seems to me, without becoming much happier and more cheerful,” Vincent van Gogh wrote in a letter to his brother Theo in 1888. Today, Japanese artists continue to push contemporary art forward, from Tadanori Yokoo’s bold graphic designs to Hiroshi Sugimoto’s soothing seascapes. Takashi Murakami, Aya Takano, and Yoshitomo Nara invent undeniably cute characters inspired by manga cartoons. Meanwhile, Katsumi Hayakawa and Shingo Francis play with the viewer’s visual perception with their color-bending abstractions. And in a world of her own, Yayoi Kusama invites viewers to jump into the cosmos through her dotted prints and infinity nets. Below, discover works that prove van Gogh’s words remain true more than a century later.

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