Women are represented in Japanese Pop Art as a reflection of how they are represented in other forms of media- sexual objects, hyper-feminine, and unthreatening. One contemporary pop artist, Takashi Murakami, represents women as sexual objects, often with a Western look. However, Yoshitomo Nara represents women differently in his works. They are represented as sometimes violent and full of defiant attitude; yet, often with a vacant stare that suggest they have no substance. In this paper I will examine Murakami’s pieces entitled Hiropon and Miss Ko and Nara’s pieces The Girl with the Knife and The Night Walker.
The state of Japanese Pop Art in Japan is very different from the state of pop art in America. In fact, Murakami and Nara are very popular artists in the American Art scene. In order for a Japanese artist to be very successful they must gain recognition in the American art scene first. In the introduction of My Reality Jeff Fleming has this to say of Japanese pop culture: “...many of its sources life in forms of Western entertainment…Japanese popular culture reflects contemporary Japanese society, which is so heavily influence by the West that it can be called a merging of Western and Japanese cultural entities” (15).
Takashi Murakami holds a PhD in traditional Japanese painting or nihon-ga. His keen interest in traditional Japanese artistic technique, pop art, Western Art, and his embracement of Otaku culture had given him a unique niche in the Japanese art world. Murakami is often called the Japanese Andy Warhol and Micahek Darling has this to comment, “[Murakami’s] Pop strategy for mixing references to canonical art-historical figures or subjects with consumer sources in analogous to the work of Andy Warhol… in the early 1960s” (“Plumbing the Depths of Superflatness”2). This unique blend of artistic interests and style has lead to his development of the Hiropon Factory, a cooperative of artists, and the new genre of art he calls “superflat.”...
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