MFA Hosts Murakami's Lineage of Eccentrics

A portion of Takashi Murakami's interpretation of Soga Shohaku's famous 18th century piece, "Dragon in the Clouds."

Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts is home to many a masterpiece and the carefully crafted "Takashi Murakami: Lineage of Eccentrics" exhibit currently on display is no exception. Having opened on Oct. 18, the display will run through April 1 of next year, granting as many people as possible the opportunity to view the work of “the Warhol of Japan.”

Born in Tokyo in 1962, Takashi Murakami emerged in postwar Japan and is renowned for his utilization of anime style cartoons; garnering fame for his "Superflat Theory," a postmodern art movement influenced by manga, in the 1990s. One of the most prominent artists of the East, he has worked with designer brands such as Louis Vuitton at the invitation of Marc Jacobs in a unique blend of commerce and so-called “high art;” something Murakami admits the West tends to separate.

The exhibit takes up a multitude of rooms in the Ann and Graham Gund Gallery, consisting of not only Murakami’s artistry but also selective pieces from the MFA’s collection of Japanese art. Murakami teamed up with Japanese art historian Nobuo Tsuji in order to assemble a compilation that reflected the conversation between Murakami’s brilliantly colored contemporary work and the art of the past. This includes paintings, sculptures, and scrolls—pieces such as the 35-foot long "Dragon in the Clouds" by Soga Shohaku from the year 1763, and the world famous Heiji scroll that dates back to the 13th century.

The entirety of the exhibit is pulled together by a creative dialogue by Tsuji; providing in-depth explanations of each piece and the history behind it.

As someone who can dedicate a significant number of hours to purveying an art museum, I tend to veer towards Renaissance and Impressionist paintings with the occasional contemporary piece. However, I found the "Lineage of Eccentrics" to be beautiful and awe-inspiring in a manner that most modern art cannot replicate. The bright colors and cartoon nature of the drawings, combined with the historical Japanese influence, permeated in a profoundly interesting way.

My favorite piece was Murakami’s interpretation of "Dragon in the Clouds"—a massive mural that took up an entire wall in one of the rooms. It almost seemed like a mosaic, assembled from tiny hexagons of color and detailed minuscule drawings. From one Boston resident to another, I highly recommend taking a trip to the MFA before the exhibit departs.

Sponsored by the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Foundation, Davis and Carol Noble, and other notable contributors, the exhibit is free to anyone able to present a student ID upon entering the museum.

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