Taking it High-brow


Is there a Japanese Andy Warhol? Perhaps, some say, contemporary artist Takashi Murakami fits the bill. His likeness to the late art icon is attributed to his similar ability to transform pop culture to appeal to 'high-brow' audiences. And, while his name may still not ring immediate bells for many of us, anyone who's seen a Louis Vuitton purse or accessory in the last seven years or so has likely come face-to-face with Murakami's work. The artist has had a major hand in the look of the luxury handbag line since the early 2000s, when he took the classic accessory into an entirely new era, starting off with a bold new design featuring multi-coloured icons and animations on a stark white leather background. Since, he has continued to produce various looks for the brand, and even inspired a luxury stuffed toy line–of Louis Vuitton plush pandas.

Meanwhile, I've mentioned before the waves of reports continuing to come out of China, and more specifically places like Hong Kong and Taiwan, of art auction houses like Sotheby's making sky-high profits on artwork despite the global recession. Now the Wall Street Journal has again mentioned the phenomenon in an article published last week, 'Asian Artists Shine Despite Tough Times,' pointing out this time that, according to a France-based research firm, 'five Asian artists ranked among last year's top ten money-makers world-wide' (based on data focusing on auction sales spanning a year, from June 2008-July 2009). And Takashi Murakami comes in as No. 7 on the list, which also includes three Chinese artists and Indian native Anish Kapoor.

So things continue to look up for Murakami–a recent New York Times piece that explores 'Animamix,' a new 'aesthetic trend' in Asian contemporary art singled him out as one of the leaders of the movement. And it was just last month that Forbes reported that Louis Vuitton remains the 'king in mainland China,' of the luxury market, with a still 'rapidly expanding' brand in the region.

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