Prolific pop artist Takashi Murakami, known primarily for his gaping-mouth cartoon creations, is one of the most well-known working artists of the 21st century — and a lot of that notoriety is thanks to the company he keeps.
A painter and lucrative fine artist, Murakami’s dabblings in pop culture and the low brow have been just as successful. He’s collaborated with musicians, magazines and designers to come up with some mainstream projects that have all echoed his distinctive aesthetic.
Anyone still in the dark on the Japanese artists’ work probably became acquainted with him on June 21, when Google published its Summer Solstice-themed doodle he created just for the occasion
Here’s a quick rundown of the doodle and four of our other favorite Murakami moments:
1. Google “Solstice” Doodle
A huge fan of flowers we probably would have pegged Murakami for a spring doodle, but you can’t fight with this kind of cute. And note that those in the Southern hemisphere got a snowy Winter Solstice doodle:
Were you aware that actress Kirsten Dunst recorded a cover of The Vapors‘ “Turning Japanese?” Granted, it was never intended for commercial release. The music video, directed by McG (“Charlie’s Angels,” “The OC”) and produced by Murakami, was filmed for the 2009 exhibit at London’s Tate Modern, “Pop Life: Art in a Material World.”
With her blue wig, pink skirt and crazy dancing throughout Tokyo’s Akihabara shopping district, Dunst really sells her Japanese transformation:
3. Louis Vuitton
We’re going to go out on a very short limb and say that Murakami’s most lucrative partnership to date has been with Louis Vuitton. The two joined forces for a line of brightly colored handbags and accessories with the artist playing off of the label’s famous initial logo:
4. Kanye West, Graduation
There are few stamps of approval that carry the same weight as Kanye West’s, and when the rapper and singer released his 2007 album “Graduation,” he was all about Murakami. The artist made two alternate covers for the record and animated the images to make a music video for the song “Good Morning” — even though it was never released as a single.
Still one of Kanye’s best to date:
5. Britney Spears, Pop Magazine
Yes, we know, this one was sort of weird — but Murkami’s interest in Spears made us that more excited for her 2010 Renaissance that unofficially kicked off on the cover of UK fashion import Pop. She should talk to Kirsten Dunst, because we’re pretty sure he turned her Japanese too: