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Yoshitomo nara nobodY’s fool

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Yoshitomo nara nobodY’s fool moved from credit page
Yoshitomo nara Melissa Chiu and Miwako Tezuka With contributions from Midori Matsui, Michael Wilson, and

Yoshitomo nara

Yoshitomo nara Melissa Chiu and Miwako Tezuka With contributions from Midori Matsui, Michael Wilson, and Hideki

Melissa Chiu and Miwako Tezuka With contributions from Midori Matsui, Michael Wilson, and Hideki Toyoshima

asia societY museum in association with abrams, new York

Project Manager, Asia Society:

Marion Kocot

Project Manager, Abrams:

Deborah Aaronson

Designer: Goto Design, Takaya Goto and Lesley Chi

Production Editor, Asia Society:

Published on the occasion of the exhibition “Yoshitomo Nara:

Nobody’s Fool,” organized by Asia Society Museum.

Asia Society Museum New York, New York

September 9, 2010 – January 2, 2011

Elizabeth Bell

© Asia Society, 2010 New York, NY

Copy Editor:

Linda Truilo

Asia Society

Production Manager:

Jules Thomson

Cataloging-in-Publication Data has been applied for and can be obtained from the Library of Congress.

ISBN 978-0-8109-9414-0

A Conversation with the Artist; From S.M.L. to A to Z and YNG; and Nara Voice selections are translated by Miwako Tezuka

half title page:

U Dork!, 2003. Colored pencil on paper.

H. 6 3 8 x W. 8 3 4 in. (16.1 x 22.3 cm)

Collection of Manuel Emch

frontispiece:

Installation by YNG at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, United Kingdom, 2008

front cover:

Untitled (1, 2, 3, 4 Man), 2008. Colored pencil on paper. H. 14 1 2 x W. 9 in. (36.8 x 22.9 cm)

Private collection

back cover:

top Untitled (Nobody’s Fool), 1998. Water- color on paper. H. 13 3 4 x W. 10 1 8 in. (34.9 x 25.7 cm)

Collection of Peter Norton

bottom Untitled (Pup with guitar), 1992–2000. Ballpoint pen, crayon, and gouache

on torn green lined paper. H. 6 1 2 x

W. 6 in. (16.5 x 15.2 cm)

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David Teiger in honor of Agnes Gund

725 Park Avenue

New York, NY 10021 www.AsiaSociety.org

Gund 725 Park Avenue New York, NY 10021 www.AsiaSociety.org Published in 2010 by Abrams, an imprint

Published in 2010 by Abrams, an imprint of ABRAMS. All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, mechanical, electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the publisher.

Printed and bound in Hong Kong, China

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10 9

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Abrams Books are available at special discounts when purchased in quantity for premiums and promotions as well as fundraising or educational use. Special editions can also be created to specification. For details, contact specialmarkets@abramsbooks.com or the address below.

contact specialmarkets@abramsbooks.com or the address below. 115 West 18th Street New York, NY 10011 www.abramsbooks.com

115 West 18th Street

New York, NY 10011 www.abramsbooks.com

All works by Yoshitomo Nara are used with permission. Every effort has been made to obtain permission for use of the images in this publication that are not the direct copyright of the artist.

contents

7

Foreword Vishakha N. Desai

8

Preface

Melissa Chiu

10

Lenders to the Exhibition

11

Exhibition Funders

12

Art for Myself and Others:

Yoshitomo Nara’s Popular Imagination Midori Matsui

26

Plates 1: Isolation

88

Music on My Mind: The Art and Phenomenon of Yoshitomo Nara Miwako Tezuka

110

Plates 2: Music

170

A Conversation with the Artist Melissa Chiu

184

Plates 3: Rebellion

228

Subject to Change: Yoshitomo Nara and American Culture Michael Wilson

240

From S.M.L. to A to Z and YNG Hideki Toyoshima

246

Plates 4: Installations

256

Nara Voice Selections from the Artist’s Blog

264

Biography and Selected Solo Exhibitions

266

Selected Group Exhibitions

268

Selected Bibliography

270

Contributors

271

Photography Credits

foreword

Yoshitomo Nara has been a crucial figure in the art world since the 1990s, not only in his native Japan but also around the world. His work crosses cultural and national boundaries, even as he remains a leader in defining the scope and direction of contemporary Japanese art. As a leader in identifying and supporting the latest contemporary Asian art, Asia Society is proud to present the work of this renowned contemporary artist. It seems appropriate that we begin this new decade with Yoshitomo Nara, whose works seem to reflect a complex mixture of vulnerability, anger, rebellion, and idealism that resonates with our modern world on a universal level. Asia Society’s history with the art and artists of Japan began with our founder John D. Rockefeller 3rd’s interest in and passion for the country and its culture, and we have been intimately engaged with the Japanese art world ever since. Many of the projects we have presented have been exhibitions and publications that explore aspects of traditional Japanese arts, from notable early projects such as “Emaki: Narrative Scrolls from Japan” (1983) and “Worlds Seen and Imagined: Japanese Screens from the Idemitsu Museum of Arts” (1995); to the more recent “The New Way of Tea” (2002), “Golden Fantasies:

Japanese Screens” (2004), and “Designed for Pleasure: The World of Edo Japan in Prints and Paintings, 1680–1860” (2008), to name a few. Contemporary Japanese artists also have figured prominently in our program and have been featured in recent projects, including “Yuken Teruya: Free Fish” (2007) and “Yoshihiro Suda: In Focus” (2010). As a unique multidisciplinary organization, Asia Society, in addition to staging exhibitions, also organizes and presents live cultural performances, film and author series, and lectures and conferences on policy, business, and education concerning Asia. With the Yoshitomo Nara exhibition providing audiences with a greater understanding of the creative process and of new art, Asia Society continues its role as the leading museum of contemporary Asian art. We hope that this exhibition and book, along with other Asia Society programs, lead to a greater awareness of the culture of Japan and will contribute to a deeper understanding of Japan’s role in the world of today as well as in the world of the future.

Vishakha N. Desai President

preface

We think we know who Yoshitomo Nara is. We see his images of destructive yet endearing girls everywhere it seems, on T-shirts and ashtrays and as figurines. Yet these cute objects are only one dimension of Nara’s body of work. Certainly his art lends itself to reproduction, and Nara is interested in making his art accessible, but central to all of his works is an emotional intensity that conveys recurring feelings of abandonment, loneliness, and rebellion, embodied in the solitary figures of girls wielding knives or sad puppy dogs. It is no surprise that from an early stage Nara found refuge and inspiration in music. Youthful disaffection in the lyrics and melodies of rock and punk appealed to him. In my interview with Nara, which is included in this book, he says “The influence of music on me is far more significant than that of manga and other things that people often talk about.” His interests are not just centered on American and European bands but also include Japanese bands such as pop-punk group Shonen Knife. This exhibition, “Yoshitomo Nara: Nobody’s Fool,” explores the connection between Nara’s work and music. The title is drawn from Dan Penn’s 1973 soul album and its title song of the same name. Music has been present in Nara’s life in many different ways, evident in the YouTube video of him painting in his studio to loud rock music. He has also designed album covers for The Star Club, one of Japan’s first punk bands; the German New Wave group The Birdy Num Nums; and R.E.M. Rock and punk lyrics act as statements in his work and as titles for his paintings. Overt music references can be found in many of the works in the exhibition including drawings, sculptures, and paintings. Yet Nara’s connection to music is more profound than these obvious references, and we hope that this exhibition sheds new light on the spirit of Nara’s art practice, one that is characterized by the creation of an internalized world of his own making. Here music is one of the many elements that drive his characters of hapless animals and emotionally injured young girls. As cocurator for this exhibition, I have had the privilege of working with Miwako Tezuka, Associate Curator, Asia Society. She has brought a specialized knowledge and enthusiasm to the project from a Japanese perspective and has guided many elements of the exhibition. Together we have selected works that span a twenty-year period, including many of Nara’s early works created in Japan that have never been exhibited in the United States. The intention is as much to show Nara’s interest in music as to show how his work and iconography have developed over this period of time. Particularly revealing are his drawings on scraps of paper, such as exhibition invitations, envelopes, or even restaurant napkins, which are like visual thoughts. In some we are able to see the genesis of paintings that eventually become more resolved and delicately rendered on canvas. One of the real pleasures of planning this exhibition has been to work with Yoshitomo Nara. He is an artist full of surprises and contradictions, and we hope that this exhibition will reveal some of the complexity of his

practice. In Nara’s own words, “If you look only at the surface, my work will not really reveal itself to you.” We thank Nara for his patience and commitment to this exhibition. He was a wonderful collaborator and creator. Hideki Toyoshima also deserves great thanks for collaborating with Nara on the new installation commission. Toyoshima and his team Ryo Aoyanagi, Yasumasa Konishi, and Takako Hosoda are to be acknowledged for producing the extraordinary installation piece that serves both as stage and framing device for Nara’s works. Midori Matsui, Miwako Tezuka, Hideki Toyoshima, and Michael Wilson contributed essays for this book. Their contributions provide a fuller context to the understanding of Nara’s work and the role he has played not just in Japan but also on the international stage. I thank our collaborators at Abrams, Deborah Aaronson and Caitlin Kenney, and the book designers, Lesley Chi and Takaya Goto of Goto Design. I also thank Yasuaki Ishizaka, Sotheby’s Japan; Tomio Koyama and Satoko Hamada, Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo; and Marianne Boesky and Erica Mercado, Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York, for their help in the planning stages of the project. It has been a pleasure to work with them on this project. Thanks also go to the lenders to the exhibition, who are acknowledged on page 10. I would also like to acknowledge the dedication of Marion Kocot and Elizabeth Bell, who have produced a fabulous volume for Asia Society. I am grateful for the support of many funders, listed on page 11, who made this project possible. At Asia Society, I want to acknowledge our President Vishakha Desai’s leadership. In the museum, I would like to recognize the many members of the staff who worked tirelessly to make this exhibition happen, including Clare McGowan, Collections Manager and Registrar; Jacob M. Reynolds, Associate Registrar; Davis Thompson-Moss, Installation Manager; Nancy Blume, Head of Museum Education Programs; Hannah Pritchard, Administrative Assistant; Lara Netting, Asia Society Museum Getty Fellow; and Eurie Kim, Museum Intern. Others at Asia Society who should be thanked for their continued support include Michael Roberts, Executive Director, New York Public Programs, and Rachel Cooper, Director, Cultural Programs, New York Public Programs; Victor Abud Hall, Leia Droll, Alice Hunsberger, Emily Moqtaderi, Andrea Petrini, and David Reid for their fundraising efforts; Bill Swersey and his Asia Society Online team; and Elaine Merguerian, Charlene Manuel, and Noopur Agarwal for their work on press, publicity, and marketing.

Melissa Chiu Museum Director Vice President, Global Art Programs Asia Society

lenders to the exhibition

Aomori Museum of Art Elizabeth Blair and Michael Kelter Blum & Poe, Los Angeles Melva Bucksbaum and Raymond Learsy Lyor Cohen Mr. and Mrs. Andrew N. Dodge Charlotte and Bill Ford Erica Gervais Susan Hancock Vicki and Kent Logan The Museum of Modern Art, New York Peter Norton Rubell Family Collection San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Adam and Iris Singer

We also acknowledge with gratitude those lenders who prefer to remain anonymous.

exhibition funders

Critical support for Yoshitomo Nara: Nobody’s Fool comes from our lead sponsor, The W.L.S. Spencer Foundation.

Additional support provided by:

Marianne Boesky Gallery Joleen and Mitchell Julis Susan Hancock & Royal/T, Culver City, California Harold and Ruth Newman Toby Devan Lewis Masako H. Shinn Globus Family Agnes Gund Ise Cultural Foundation Japan Foundation Elizabeth Blair and Michael Kelter Yasko and Thierry Porté The Mary Livingston Griggs and Mary Griggs Burke Foundation

Support for Asia Society Museum provided by the Friends of Asian Art; Asia Society Contemporary Art Council, whose members include Carol and David Appel, Monique Burger and Max Burger-Calderon, Mitchell A. Harwood, Stephanie Holmquist and Mark Allison, Joleen and Mitchell Julis, Helen Little, Harold and Ruth Newman, and Cynthia Hazen Polsky; Arthur Ross Foundation; Asia: Ideas and Images, endowed by Harold and Ruth Newman; Sheryl and Charles R. Kaye Endowment for Contemporary Art Exhibitions; Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Fund; National Endowment for the Humanities; Hazen Polsky Foundation; New York State Council on the Arts; and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

New York State Council on the Arts; and public funds from the New York City Department
New York State Council on the Arts; and public funds from the New York City Department
New York State Council on the Arts; and public funds from the New York City Department

hi-res replaced

ART FOR MYSELF AND OTHERS:

YOSHITOMO NARA’S POPULAR IMAGINATION

Midori Matsui

A Vehicle of Contemporary Sentiment: The Unique Role of Nara’s Figurative Expression in Japanese Society in the late 1990s

Figure 1 Yoshitomo Nara In the Deepest Puddle II, 1995 Acrylic on cotton H. 47 1 4 x W. 43 5 16 in. (120 x 110 cm)

Takahashi collection

Yoshitomo Nara’s international reputation has been established mainly in the context of the new Pop tendency in contemporary Japanese art. 1 His signature style, featuring the image of a large-headed child with penetrating eyes, is also frequently associated with manga. 2 Nara’s art, however, has had a different significance and context of recognition within Japan, which may not be apparent to spectators abroad. Since his major solo show in Tokyo in 1995, Nara has been recognized as one of the main artists who has contributed to the reevaluation of figurative painting as part of contemporary art practice. The new Pop tendency, most conspicuously represented by Takashi Murakami, has appropriated the icons and styles of Japanese popular art in order to analyze them as cultural representations of a Japanese postmodern society saturated with popular media. Nara’s painting, in contrast, has been considered a symbolic representation of the dominant feelings of Japanese youth in the late 1990s and early 2000s, characterized by a sense of uncertainty about the future, vulnerability, and a yearning for the innocence preserved in the inner child. Such emotional tendencies in turn reflect the psychological effects of the Great Kansai Earthquake and Subway Gas Attack in 1995. This was a time when many people began to doubt the concept of linear progress and started to seek spiritual values, which are frequently associated with childhood memories and the exigencies of everyday life. At the same time, the style of his painting unites disparate elements in an emotional whole, mediated by the imagination of a child or adolescent, which gives priority to the emotional truth of dream vision over the rational representation of reality. This brief essay attempts to survey the process that led to Nara’s recognition and the establishment of his artistic importance in Japan and Asia between 1995 and 2006, documenting the popularity of Nara’s painting as a visual representation

of a contemporary sensibility, characterized by a search for innocence, while accounting for the artistic significance of his work as a vehicle of the child’s imagination that creates connection between opposite realms or levels of experience. Nara’s first major solo show, entitled “In the Deepest Puddle” (1995) and held at Scai the Bathhouse, set the standard for the reception of Nara’s painting as the vehicle of a new sensibility. His paintings of forlorn children with intense gazes— depicted as bandaged, abandoned, or even crucified— evoke a sense of internal strength beneath their vulnerable appearances (fig. 1). The sculpture of a gentle-faced white dog too large to enter its kennel suggests feelings of acceptance and forgiveness. These images force spectators to confront the ambivalence of their own minds, while simultaneously conveying the opposite impressions of innocence and experience, anger and compassion, life in this world and otherworldly existence or an afterlife. Nara’s painterly style—which is characterized by powerful freehand lines defining figures against a white-painted background with distortion and ellipsis, and thick fields of emotionally evocative colors in striking combinations, such as red, purple, and yellow, or white, blue, and gold—enhances the symbolic effects of his images. These characteristics suggest Nara’s aesthetic and spiritual kinship with the heritage of eccentric paintings that have created personal mythologies in the history of modern painting. This is exemplified by German Neo Expressionist paintings, to which he was exposed during his schooling at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf between 1988 and 1993; Tsuguji Leonard Fujita’s paintings of innocent but recalcitrant children in the 1960s; and Japanese modernist-inspired illustration for children’s books in the 1920s and the 1930s. Critical responses to the exhibition “In the Deepest Puddle” were not sensational, but were strongly indicative of the art media’s appreciation of the spiritual content and the aesthetic purity of Nara’s work. One reviewer suggested that the simultaneously innocent and thoughtful look of Nara’s children expressed a will to confront the absurdity and cruelty of contemporary life in search of hope. 3 In contrast, the leading art magazine Bijutsu techo (Art Notebook) featured Nara as one of the representative painters of “pleasure painting,” or kairaku kaiga, an emerging tendency at the time in which the painter was emotionally involved in the creative process and themes of his painting, and enjoyed sharing the pleasures of emotional expression and its aesthetic representation with the viewer. 4 Nara has attracted viewers of quite a different kind than those who support Japanese New Pop. While Murakami’s supporters frequently expect to find ideological paradigms in his work for the interpretation of Japanese postmodern culture, the first enthusiastic supporters of Nara’s paintings outside

professional circles were people who felt disenfranchised from social institutions, including adolescents having difficulty in school; they found spiritual solace and encouragement in his paintings. 5 In spite of Nara’s residence in Germany, which limited his public exposure in Japan during this time, his popularity gained steadily between 1997 and 1999, mainly due to the publication of In the Deepest Puddle (1997) and Slash With a Knife (1998), books that showed reproductions of his paintings and drawings. He also made a drawing for the cover of Hardboiled and Hard Luck (1999), a novel by Banana Yoshimoto. Yoshimoto’s novels have had a tremendous impact on young adults and adolescents suffering from feelings of vulnerability, disenfranchisement, and the inevitability of separation and death as inevitable truths of life. 6 Nara and Yoshimoto corresponded with each other through letters and in person during the 1990s, and established the basis for an ongoing creative partnership that resulted in remarkable emotional expression in drawing and literature, seen in such books as Hinagiku no jinsei (The Life of Hinagiku; 2000) and Argentine Hag (2002). 7 During the years between 1998 and 2000, more and more reviews of Nara’s books and exhibitions suggested that his figures of children and dogs were spiritual self-portraits of the artist and emphasized the power of his pictures to evoke the immediacy of children’s feelings that his grown-up audience had long forgotten but that were nevertheless preserved in the recesses of their minds. These feelings in turn gave them the strength to accept their own solitude and to understand life as an inextricable mixture of loss and hope. 8 The emotional content and spiritual effect of Nara’s art has a strong affinity with the prevailing tendencies in contemporary literature, film, photography, and underground comics that favor humanized expression. These various media seek to reveal the personal meaning of everyday incidents, look to childhood memories for the sources of and solutions to present loneliness, and explore ways of achieving more intimate relationships with others. In the novels of Banana Yoshimoto, young protagonists, who have suffered the deaths of loved ones, meet sympathetic others who help them attain personal enlightenment and understand the meaning of parting as a fundamental truth of life. In her film Moe no Suzaku (The God Suzaku), Naomi Kawase also examines the theme of parting through her depiction of a close-knit family living in a deserted village in the mountains; based on her own biography, the film won the Caméra d’Or at Cannes in 1997. Young female photographers such as Hiromix and Yurie Nagashima have captured trivial incidents or portraits of friends and family members with amateur-like simplicity, immediacy, and lyricism. Cartoonist Taiyo Matsumoto, in his cartoon narrative Tekkon kinkurito (Black and White), creates a picaresque fantasy of orphans surviving in urban squalor with expressionistic

Figure 2 Yoshitomo Nara Let’s Go Home , 1990 Acrylic on canvas H. 35 3

Figure 2 Yoshitomo Nara Let’s Go Home, 1990 Acrylic on canvas H. 35 3 4 x W. 35 1 2 in. (90.8 x 90.2 cm)

Private collection

freehand drawing reminiscent of the underground comics of the 1960s. 9 Such expressions have gained both the enthusiastic support of their contemporary audience and critical recognition and acceptance from institutional authority. 10 The formal elements of Nara’s painting and drawing support the spiritual content of his work. His unique way of connecting apparently disparate images and suggesting a larger narrative context through elliptical details presents

a multilayered vision of reality and a fluidity of imagination

that evoke dream vision. In my own writing on Nara between 1999 and 2001, I have maintained that the artistic merit of Nara’s painting and drawing resides in his technique of juxtaposing

heterogeneous details to suggest emotional totality and evoking a larger context through fragments. This resembles the two dominant methods of image formation in dream s, condensation and displacement, while capturing the undifferentiated state of a child’s psyche. 11 Let me briefly reexamine the original characteristics of Nara’s figuration that mediate the child’s imagination and the visual rhetoric of dreams, and suggest

a visual heritage that is quite different than contemporary Japanese anime or popular comics.

smaller

than contemporary Japanese anime or popular comics. smaller Figure 3 Yoshitomo Nara Dog Mountain in a

Figure 3 Yoshitomo Nara Dog Mountain in a Vision, 1991 Acrylic on cotton H. 64 x W. 25 1 4 in. (162.5 x 64.5 cm)

Aomori Museum of Art, 2675

The Child as Intermediary of the Phantasmal Imagination: Fluidity and Multidimensionality in Nara’s Painting and Drawing

The pictorial recapitulation of a drea m vision th rough condensation and displacement is presented most conspicuously by Nara’s painting between 1990 and 1995. In Let’s Go Home (1990), a creature with a child’s head and the body of a fish flies through an ambiguous space covered with a milky mist; his head is aflame and a pair of feet stick out of his chest and kick the air (fig. 2). The boy-fish figure may suggest the desire of a child rushing to return home before the sunset, like fish swimming in water, or an animal running on the earth. The merging of different species and realms of experience represents both the state of being in a dream and a child’s uncertain identity. In the 1991 painting Dog Mountain in a Vision, a triangular green mountain rises from the golden earth. Four white dogs are seen climbing up both sides of the mountain and a gigantic figure of a similar dog hovers in the milky sky above them (fig. 3). Although the meaning of the hermetic painting is indeterminate, the image strongly suggests a vision of the afterlife: the gold earth indicates a transcendent realm while the figures of dogs clinging to the edges of the sharp triangle simultaneously evoke pilgrims and insects clinging to a leaf. The picture thus embodies the difficult process of spiritual experience and survival. It presents both a spiritual parable and a reference to a memory of a specific dog that might have come from anyone’s childhood. The coexistence of different moments in time, and the intermingling of memory and its metaphorical displacement make the picture an embodiment of the psychic landscape of a dreamer or a child. The critic Takaaki Yoshimoto attributes this condensation of heterogeneous elements, which compress different levels of experience into one picture, to the type of imagination governing fairy tales, which in turn may be attributed to the imagination of children. 12 The multidimensionality and fluidity of Nara’s pictorial space also encourages the process of random association, a fundamental function of drawing. In fact, Nara’s drawing has much in common with children’s drawings and drawings made for children. It has a fundamental affinity with the drawings created for Japanese children’s literature in the 1920s and the 1930s by such painters as Takeo Takei and Shigeru Hatsuyama, who were trained in traditional oil painting, but were inspired by the modernist paintings of Kandinsky and the Symbolist drawings of Aubrey Beardsley to invent a unique genre of modern illustration. Their illustrations accompanied the stories of authors, such as Mimei Ogawa, who were equally influenced by English Romanticism and Marxism, and represented the ideal of the innocence and unregulated imagination of children, frequently retained in the depth of the adult mind. 13

Nara’s drawing is deeply inspired by the illustrations of Takeshi Motai (1908–1956), a painter who
Nara’s drawing is deeply inspired by the illustrations of Takeshi Motai (1908–1956), a painter who

Nara’s drawing is deeply inspired by the illustrations of Takeshi Motai (1908–1956), a painter who created illustrations for literary works during the 1930s, and for children’s books during the 1940s and the 1950s. In one interview, Nara declared, “Motai’s aesthetic sensibility found its sources in everyday life and this makes it sublime, expressing a pure soul that transcends the difference between western and eastern art.” 14 Motai’s drawing is much like Nara’s; he uses thick lively lines to delineate images against backgrounds composed of layers of different colors. Through bold distortion and an accumulation of heterogeneous elements, Motai’s drawing condenses reality and fantasy—presenting an ordinary Japanese landscape pervaded by an otherworldly aura, children merging with animals or birds, and fairy-tale scenes with religious associations (fig. 4a,b). Nara’s first solo ex hibition at a public museu m in Japan, “I Don’t Mind, If You Forget Me,” was held in 2001 at Yokohama Museum of Art and traveled to four other venues in Japan. The exhibition attempted to examine the spiritual and artistic significance of Nara’s art for his contemporaries. Nara organized the exhibition as an integrated installation made up of images that encouraged visitors to both identify

above left

Figure 4a

Takeshi Motai (Japanese, 1908–1956) Picture Story “Treasure Ship,” 1939 Watercolor on paper

H. 9 1 2 x W. 7 1 4 in. (24.2 x 18.5 cm)

above right

Figure 4b

Takeshi Motai (Japanese, 1908–1956) I am a wild bird, 1946 Watercolor on paper

H. 15 x W. 10 3 4 in. (38.2 x 27.2 cm)

with the imagination of children and engage in a process of self-examination. New works in the exhibition included a series of paintings showing girls on large dish-shaped canvases and two sculptures that also functioned as fountains: Fountain of Life, an emotionally evocative sculpture of children’s heads stacked on top of one another, quietly shedding tears into a puddle (fig. 5a,b); and Fountain of Sorrow, which depicts five dogs on a dish shedding tears into a puddle (fig. 6). Nara also presented Time of My Life 2001, a hut-like structure with numerous drawings on its walls. The installation served as a symbol of the exhibition’s formal and spiritual aims, showcasing the spontaneity and indeterminacy of drawing that lie at the core of Nara’s imagination. There was also a room in the exhibition filled with stuffed animals and dolls created from Nara’s drawn and painted characters. This was the result of a project, titled I Don’t Mind, If You Forget Me, which celebrated the outcome of a public collaboration between Nara and his spectators that embodied mutual commitment while suggesting the formation of a temporary emotional community.

Widening Circles and Indeterminate Horizons: The Growing Popularity of Nara’s Art and the Need to Define Its Place in History

Nara’s popularity and artistic status continued to rise steadily during the early to mid-2000s. Two large-scale solo exhibitions, “From the Depth of My Drawer” (2004–5), and “Yoshitomo Nara + graf: A to Z” (2006) presented unique and intimate aspects of Nara’s creativity. “From the Depth of My Drawer,” which traveled to several venues in Japan and Korea, presented early paintings and drawings, including many that had never been shown in public before; and “A to Z” at the Yoshii Brick Brewhouse in Hirosaki, Aomori prefecture, projected Nara’s utopian ideal of an artist’s community. Both shows drew a tremendous number of visitors: 60,000 to 85,000 per venue. 15 In 2003, Nara’s partnership began with the architecture and design collective graf, which resulted in impressive installations of both shows. For “A to Z,” the artist and graf created a structure of corridors leading to different rooms that almost resembled a house within a gallery; the resulting spaces seemed to embody the corners of memory, or an imaginary town where individual huts presented works by Nara and his fellow artists. The rooms, or huts, connected to one another through resonant details, reflecting a process of intimate communication among people sharing artistic and spiritual values. At Rodin Gallery in Seoul, Korea, the final venue of “From the Depth of My Drawer,” numerous accounts were recorded of adolescents suffering from hikikomori, that is, young people feeling disconnected from their families

new image

new image Figure 5a,b Yoshitomo Nara Fountain of Life , 2001 Fiber reinforced plastics, lacquer, urethane,

Figure 5a,b Yoshitomo Nara Fountain of Life, 2001 Fiber reinforced plastics, lacquer, urethane, motor, and water H. 68 7 8 x Diam. 70 7 8 in. (175 x 180 cm)

Collection of the artist

a nd school life, who had come out of seclusion to visit Nara’s exhibition. The conclusions drawn from this indicate an identification by disenfranchised youth with Nara’s art as simultaneously a representation of their feelings and a means of their emotional salvation. 16 The critical response to Nara’s art has slowly caught up with its popularity. Several publications attempted serious assessment of his work in 2001, the year of his solo exhibition, “I Don’t Mind, If You Forget Me.” Contributors to the ex hibition catalogue emphasized the fragmented character of Nara’s work, and his ability to visualize the undifferentiated perception and fluid imagination of a child as fundamental characteristics of drawing. They suggested that Nara’s artistic merit resides in making what is often considered the secondary medium of drawing an important means of expression, by both exciting the viewer’s imagination and mediating the unconscious process of image formation. 17 Several magazines published special issues devoted to Nara’s art with essays that interpreted his work mostly in the context of

new image

that interpreted his work mostly in the context of new image the contemporary anime and manga

the contemporary anime and manga subculture, or noted the ambivalent meanings suggested by his images of children. 18 Such critical surveys revealed Nara’s difference from Murakami, who had a precisely defined critical language to articulate his critique of the contemporary Japanese art system and pursued his own counterculture direction, reinforcing the private and emotional dimension of Nara’s art. Nara’s response to the slow development of a critical and art-historical definition of his work at home in Japan has been to emphasize that his art is grounded in a “subculture” or “popular culture.” 19 With such expressions, Nara means several things. First, he emphasizes his belief in the support of the general public. Second, he regards contemporary subculture as part of the historical meaning of popular culture, as the people’s culture. Third, he maintains that expressions of contemporary subculture convey the fundamental emotions of anonymous people and their resistance to established authority. He has made these ideas explicit in a number of statements, for example, “I was made famous by the public, not the approval

slightly larger and moved

slightly larger and moved of critics”; “My artistic expressions are the accumulation of my personal experiences

of critics”; “My artistic expressions are the accumulation of my personal experiences and are not determined by conceptual standards based on theory and art history”; and “We should rediscover art that exists in what we think of as subculture. It’s strong and real any where you bring it because it’s directly born of the everyday folks [minshu] rather than of tradition, and related to their everyday life.” 20 He has also said that the formation of his artistic sensibility was more influenced by children’s books and record jackets than formal works of art. 21 Nara even declared that he does not have any artistic predecessors, and because of this, he has paradoxically become part of a contemporary artistic tendency worldwide that gives more significance to the authenticity of private experience than the standards of art history. 22 Nara’s independent attitude was recognized as early as 1998 by the art critic Keiji Nakamura as an important part of the

Figure 6 Yoshitomo Nara Fountain of Sorrow, 2001 Fiber reinforced plastics, lacquer, urethane, motor, and water H. 26 1 4 x W. 80 in. (67 x 180 cm)

Collection of the artist

new tendency in contemporary art in which artists no longer identify themselves as the successors of the avant-garde, but choose to create artworks as individuals that communicate directly with other individuals. 23 I maintain that Nara’s art belongs to a unique period in the history of contemporary art, in which artists have become bricoleurs of personal details. They assemble fragments of childhood memory, popular cultural images, music with which they grew up, and incidents of everyday life to construct an emotional totality or personal fiction. Although this is a personal art, it arouses the emotion and imagination of their contemporaries who stand on the same uncertain social and cultural grounds as they. In this respect, Nara has an affinity not only with Japanese artists of his own generation like Kenji Yanobe and Hiromix, but also with contemporary American artists like Raymond Pettibon and Elizabeth Peyton. These two Americans represent the unexpressed feelings of their anonymous contemporaries much as Nara does for his spectators—Pettibon through illustrations for his brother’s punk rock band Black Flag, and his art that mixes, in his unique freehand style of drawing, outdated images appropriated from American comics of the 1930s and the 1960s, along with philosophical or satirical writing quoted with some modification from classic texts of English literature (fig. 7); and Peyton through emotionally charged portraits of rock singers and historical figures, her private icons (fig. 8). When Nara uses the word “pop” to define the category of his artistic imagination, he is perhaps referring to art that embodies the collective feelings of people who inhabit the same time and place as the artist, as the works of Pettibon and Peyton do. The historical categorization of Nara’s art has many miles to go. I hope, however, the patient task of documenting the history of the public reception of his artworks and exhibitions, and the contextualization of his art from a wider perspective that includes his international peers will detach Nara’s art from the problematic association with the Japanese New Pop, and reveal the more fundamental meaning of the “pop” element in his expressions.

Notes

1. Raphael Rubinstein, “In the Realm of the Superflat,” Art in America (June 2001):

110–15.

2. Margit Brehm, ed. The Japanese E xperience: Inevitable (Ostfildern-Ruit, Germany:

Hatje Cantz, 2002).

3. “Nara Yoshitomo: genjitsu o mitsumeru shojotachi” [Yoshitomo Nara: Girls Who Look at Reality], Nikkei Art (May 1995): 26.

4. “Kairaku kaiga” [Pleasure Painting], Bijutsu techo 709 (July 1995): 26.

5. Hideto Akasaka, “Kodomotachi wa naze fukigen ka—Nara Yoshitomo no sekai” [Why Are Children Unhappy? The World of Yoshitomo Nara], Aera, February 22, 1999, p. 55.

6. Banana Yoshimoto, “Yoshimoto Banana: An Interview,” Feature 2, no. 8 (August 1999): 88.

slightly larger

slightly larger Figure 7 Raymond Pettibon (born 1957, United States) No Title (Every pulsation of) ,

Figure 7 Raymond Pettibon (born 1957, United States) No Title (Every pulsation of), 1988 Pen and ink on paper H. 11 1 2 x W. 9 in. (29.2 x 22.9 cm)

Courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles © Raymond Pettibon

7. Yoshitomo Nara and Banana Yoshimoto, “Bananara,” Marie Claire (July 2000):

198–202.

8. Saori Yoshiba, “Kioku no soko ni mieru mono” [What Can Be Seen at the Bottom of Memory], a review of the book In the Deepest Puddle, Rockin’on (February 1998):

139; Noriko Kawakami, “Muku na kawairashisa no oku ni hisomu mono, kodomo no koro no jibun to taiwa o tsuzukeru” [What Lies in the Innocent Cuteness—He Continues to Converse with His Childhood Self], a review of the exhibition “Walking Alone,” Figaro Japon 10, no. 2 (February 1999): 115; “Dojidai-jin no shinsho hyogen” [The Expression of the Feeling of Contemporary People], a review of the exhibitions “Walking Alone” and “No, They Didn’t,” Toou Shimbun, January 26, 1999, p. 6.

9. For an attempt to contextualize this correspondence in spirit among different fields of literary and artistic expression, connecting Nara, Hiromix, Banana Yoshimoto, and Harmony Korine with the keyword “innocent,” see Bijutsu techo 53, no. 800 (February 2001). Nara had a conversation with Naomi Kawase (then Sendo) in “The Loneliness of Art, the Loneliness of Film,” Marie Claire (April 1999): 51–53; Nara reminisces how Taiyo Matsumoto’s comic Tekkon kinkurito (Black and White) inspired him to draw and paint many pictures in Germany, also mentioning his collaborative drawing project with Matsumoto in “Boku no naka no Tekkon kinkurito” [Black and White Inside Me], Eureka 39 (January 2007):

87–89.

and White Inside Me], Eureka 39 (January 2007): 87–89. Figure 8 Elizabeth Peyton (born 1965, United

Figure 8 Elizabeth Peyton (born 1965, United States) Kurt, 1995 Oil on masonite H. 10 x W. 8 in. (25.4 x 20.3 cm)

Gavin Brown’s Enterprise

10. Banana Yoshimoto’s novels have won many prestigious literary prizes, including Kaien magazine’s New Writer Prize, Izumi Kyoka Prize for Literature, and Yamamoto Shugoro Prize, and they have been translated into several foreign languages. Kawase’s Moe no Suzaku (The God Suzaku) won the Caméra d’Or Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997. Hiromix and Yurie Nagashima, together with Mika Ninagawa, won the prestigious Kimura Ihei Commemorative Photography Award for emerging young photographers in 2001.

11. Midori Matsui, “Hirakareta seishin no utsuwa—hankaigateki doroingu no shiron”

[A Vehicle for an Open Psyche: Toward the Theory of Anti-Painterly Drawing],

Bijutsu techo 52, no. 785 (April 2000): 63–71; “Miseinen no sozo—daisanshutai genso no yukue” [The Creation of the Adolescent: The Direction of the Illusion of the Third Subject], Bijutsu techo 53, no. 800 (February 2001): 65–70.

12. Takaaki Yoshimoto, “Douwa-teki sekai” [The Fairy-Tale-like World], in Higeki no kaidoku [The Interpretation of Tragedy] (Tokyo: Chikuma bunko, 1985), 322.

13. Shoichiro Kami, Nihon no dougaka tachi [Japanese Illustrators for Children] (Tokyo: Heibonsha, 2006), 35–53.

14. See Yoshitomo Nara, “Sakkayori kanshu no shiten” [Maintaining the Perspective of the Public, Rather than the Artist], Fukui Shimbun, October 10, 2001, p. 11. Takeshi Motai is a highly respected Japanese painter and illustrator, who after traveling on his own in Europe during the 1930s, started publishing drawings in the literary magazine Shin seinen (New Youth) in 1935, and in 1941 turned to children’s books and magazines, which became a major focus of his artistic activity. Motai is acclaimed for the artistic originality of his drawing, characterized by bold ellipsis and distortion of images, as well as a fluid mixture of human and animal figures, eastern and western landscapes, and the realms of the imaginary and the real. He was awarded the Shogakkan Prize for Children’s Culture for Children’s Illustration in 1956. The first comprehensive retrospective of his artwork was held in 2008 at Chihiro Museum in Tokyo and Azumino, Nagano prefecture, Japan. See Musee Motai, Motai Takeshi bijutsukan, kioku no kakera [Takeshi Motai Museum, Fragments of Memory] (Tokyo:

Kodansha, 2008).

15. 80,000 people visited “A to Z.” 85,000 visited “From the Depth of My Drawer” at its final venue, Rodin Gallery in Seoul, Korea, alone.

16. Hikikomori is a Japanese term used to describe people who shut themselves in their houses or rooms, avoiding interactions with others and the outside world. It is prevalent among young people, though some exhibit this behavior into middle age. Yoshitomo Nara, “Nara Yoshitomo—Kankoku de ‘hikikomori’ mo kando no kaiga” [The Painting That Made Isolated Adolescents Come Out of Hiding: Yoshitomo Nara], Bungei shunju (January 2006): 307–9.

17. Yoshitomo Nara, Taro Amano, Midori Matsui, et al., I Don’t Mind, If You Forget Me (Tokyo: Tankosha 2001).

18. Riichi Nakaba, “Nara Yoshitomo no kyoki” [Yoshitomo Nara’s Madness], Eureka

(October 2001): 184 –85; R y uji Azumaya, “Play with Death,” Bijutsu techo 52, no. 790 (July 2000): 65–69.

19. Hideto Akasaka, “Hitei shite mo hitei shikirenai jibun o shinjite, tsuranuke” [Believe and Continue Being Myself Whom I Cannot Totally Negate: Interview with Yoshitomo Nara], in Asahi Graph, no. 4080 (May 2000): 23–24.

20. Ibid., 24; Yoshitomo Nara, “Rongu intabyu: Nara Yoshitomo, tabi no tochu de”

[A Long Interview: Yoshitomo Nara, in the Middle of His Journey], Bijutsu techo

52, no. 790 (July 2000): 44.

21. Atsunori Asao, “Yoshitomo Nara: kodomo jidai no kankaku de orinasu muso kuukan” [Yoshitomo Nara: The Dream Space Constructed with the Sense of Childhood], English Journal 411 (October 2001): 32–34.

22. Akasaka, “Hitei shite mo hitei shikirenai jibun o shinjite, tsuranuke,” 24.

23. Keiji Nakamura, quoted in Takeshi Ito, “Omoshiro kowai seikimatsu geijutsu” [The End-of-the-Century Art That Is Fun but Scary], Nikkei Ryutsu Shimbun, May 23, 1998, p. 12.

plATEs isolation A girl standing in an empty field, dogs deep in reverie; these are

plATEs

plATEs isolation A girl standing in an empty field, dogs deep in reverie; these are the

isolation

A girl standing in an empty field, dogs deep in reverie; these are the images that populate Yoshitomo Nara’s work. Early works from the 1980s show Nara’s fluid use of his own childhood memories and imagination in a style of loose drawing and painting. In the 1990s, he boldly begins to eliminate extraneous elements in the background to focus completely on his subject and its emotional world. The period roughly coincides with his relatively secluded, and artistically fertile, time in Germany from 1988 to 2000. A child’s feeling of sadness when left alone, an adolescent’s awkwardness growing up, and the resulting uneasiness connecting with the outside world are some of the psychological states that are crystallized in his work. This general sense of isolation, also felt by the artist himself, particularly during his time in a foreign land, is universally understood by audiences of all ages and imbues his images with a strong affective power.

this page Dog Is Man’s Best Friend! , 1985 Mixed Media H. 24 3 ⁄
this page Dog Is Man’s Best Friend! , 1985 Mixed Media H. 24 3 ⁄
this page Dog Is Man’s Best Friend! , 1985 Mixed Media H. 24 3 ⁄
this page Dog Is Man’s Best Friend! , 1985 Mixed Media H. 24 3 ⁄

this page

Dog Is Man’s Best Friend!, 1985 Mixed Media

H. 24 3 4 x W. 35 7 16 in. (62.8 x 91 cm)

Aomori Museum of Art, 2669

opposite page, top

There Is No Place Like Home, 1984 Acrylic and crayon on paper

H. 21 1 4 x W. 28 9 16 in. (54 x 72.5 cm)

Aomori Museum of Art, 1871

opposite page, bottom Futaba House, Waiting for Rain Drops, 1984 Acrylic on board Each, H. 17 11 16 x W. 14 3 16 in. (45 x 36 cm)

Aomori Museum of Art, 1870

Flaming Head, 1989 Acrylic on wood H. 62 x W. 9 1 8 x D. 10 13 16 in. (157.5 x 23.2 x 27.5 cm)

private collection

30

this page, top Home, 1989

Watercolor, collage on paper

H. 8 1 16 x W. 5 3 4 in. (20.5 x 14.5 cm)

Aomori Museum of Art, 1875

this page, bottom

At Night When Building Blocks Fall,

A Big Tear Drops, 1989

Watercolor on paper

H. 8 1 16 x W. 5 3 4 in. (20.5 x 14.5 cm)

Aomori Museum of Art, 1881

opposite page, top left Sleepless Night, 1989 Watercolor on paper

H. 8 1 16 x W. 5 3 4 in. (20.5 x 14.5 cm)

Aomori Museum of Art, 1865

opposite page, top right

Somewhere in the Sleepless Night, 1989 Watercolor on paper

H. 8 1 16 x W. 5 3 4 in. (20.5 x 14.5 cm)

Aomori Museum of Art, 1863

opposite page, bottom left

A Gift from Eastern Europe, 1989

Watercolor on paper

H. 8 1 16 x W. 5 3 4 in. (20.5 x 14.5 cm)

Aomori Museum of Art, 1885

opposite page, bottom right Tiananmen, China, 1989 Watercolor on paper

H. 8 1 16 x W. 5 3 4 in. (20.5 x 14.5 cm)

Aomori Museum of Art, 1872

, 1989 Watercolor on paper H. 8 1 ⁄ 16 x W. 5 3 ⁄ 4
, 1989 Watercolor on paper H. 8 1 ⁄ 16 x W. 5 3 ⁄ 4
, 1989 Watercolor on paper H. 8 1 ⁄ 16 x W. 5 3 ⁄ 4
, 1989 Watercolor on paper H. 8 1 ⁄ 16 x W. 5 3 ⁄ 4
, 1989 Watercolor on paper H. 8 1 ⁄ 16 x W. 5 3 ⁄ 4
, 1989 Watercolor on paper H. 8 1 ⁄ 16 x W. 5 3 ⁄ 4
this page Hannya Neko ( Hannya Cat ), 1989 Acrylic on cotton H. 23 5
this page Hannya Neko ( Hannya Cat ), 1989 Acrylic on cotton H. 23 5

this page Hannya Neko (Hannya Cat), 1989 Acrylic on cotton H. 23 5 8 x W. 39 3 8 in. (60 x 100 cm)

Aomori Museum of Art, 2596

opposite page Wo ist deine Mutti?, 1989 Colored pencil and watercolor on used box H. 10 1 16 x W. 6 11 16 in. (25.5 x 17 cm)

private collection

Make the Road, Follow the Road , 1990 Acrylic on cotton H. 39 3 ⁄

Make the Road, Follow the Road, 1990 Acrylic on cotton H. 39 3 8 x W. 39 3 8 in. (100 x 100 cm)

Aomori Museum of Art, 2678

3 ⁄ 8 in. (100 x 100 cm) Aomori Museum of Art, 2678 Vision of a

Vision of a Pyramid of Dogs, 1991 Acrylic on cotton H. 25 3 4 x W. 25 3 4 in. (65.3 x 65.3 cm)

Aomori Museum of Art, 2666

this page Untitled , 1991 Acrylic on paper H. 19 1 ⁄ 2 x W.

this page

Untitled, 1991

Acrylic on paper

H. 19 1 2 x W. 13 3 4 in. (49.5 x 35 cm)

Collection of the artist

opposite page

No Means No, 1991 Acrylic on paper

H. 8 1 8 x W. 5 3 4 in. (20.7 x 14.6 cm)

Aomori Museum of Art, 2679

No , 1991 Acrylic on paper H. 8 1 ⁄ 8 x W. 5 3 ⁄
this page To the City, Nobody Knows! , 1992 Ink and colored pencil on paper

this page To the City, Nobody Knows!, 1992 Ink and colored pencil on paper H. 8 1 4 x W. 5 3 4 in. (21 x 14.7 cm)

private collection

opposite page Kapput Pup King, 1992–2000 Ballpoint pen and colored pencil on notebook paper H. 10 3 4 x W. 8 5 8 in. (27.3 x 21.9 cm)

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David Teiger in honor of Agnes Gund

x 21.9 cm) The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David
this page, left Topf , 1993 Acrylic and colored pencil on paper H. 11 7

this page, left Topf, 1993 Acrylic and colored pencil on paper H. 11 7 16 x W. 8 1 8 in. (29.1 x 20.7 cm)

Aomori Museum of Art, 2684

this page, right Seejungfrau, 1993 Acrylic and colored pencil on paper H. 11 7 16 x W. 8 1 8 in. (29.1 x 20.7 cm)

Aomori Museum of Art, 2683

1 ⁄ 8 in. (29.1 x 20.7 cm) Aomori Museum of Art, 2683 this page, left
1 ⁄ 8 in. (29.1 x 20.7 cm) Aomori Museum of Art, 2683 this page, left
1 ⁄ 8 in. (29.1 x 20.7 cm) Aomori Museum of Art, 2683 this page, left

this page, left Untitled (Checkers), 1993 Acrylic on paper H. 18 3 4 x W. 13 1 4 in. (47.6 x 33.7 cm)

Aomori Museum of Art, 2682

this page, right Bockdorf, 1993 Acrylic on paper H. 11 11 16 x W. 8 in. (29.7 x 20.3 cm)

Aomori Museum of Art, 2685

this page Abandoned Puppy , 1995 Acrylic on cotton H. 47 1 ⁄ 4 x

this page

Abandoned Puppy, 1995 Acrylic on cotton

H. 47 1 4 x W. 43 5 16 in. (120 x 110 cm)

private collection

opposite page Last Right, 1994

Acrylic on cotton

H. 39 3 8 x W. 39 3 8 in. (100 x 100 cm)

Aomori Museum of Art, 1834

, 1994 Acrylic on cotton H. 39 3 ⁄ 8 x W. 39 3 ⁄ 8

Untitled, 1994 Acrylic on cotton H. 35 7 16 x W. 51 3 16 in. (90 x 130 cm)

private collection

Untitled , 1994 Acrylic on cotton H. 35 7 ⁄ 16 x W. 51 3 ⁄
So Far Apart , 1996 Acrylic on cotton H. 47 1 ⁄ 4 x W.

So Far Apart, 1996 Acrylic on cotton H. 47 1 4 x W. 43 5 16 in. (120 x 110 cm)

Aomori Museum of Art, 1842

So Far Apart, 1996 Colored pencil on paper H. 11 11 16 x W. 8 3 16 in. (29.7 x 20.8 cm)

Aomori Museum of Art, 1928

pencil on paper H. 11 1 1 ⁄ 16 x W. 8 3 ⁄ 16 in.
Untitled ( Mask 5/Dog’s Head!!/ Lonesome Baby! ), 1992–2000 pencil and crayon on printed paper

Untitled (Mask 5/Dog’s Head!!/ Lonesome Baby!), 1992–2000 pencil and crayon on printed paper H. 6 1 2 x W. 8 3 8 in. (16.5 x 21.3 cm)

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David Teiger in honor of Agnes Gund

and promised gift of David Teiger in honor of Agnes Gund this page, top Upset Kitty
and promised gift of David Teiger in honor of Agnes Gund this page, top Upset Kitty

this page, top Upset Kitty, 1997 Mixed Media H. 18 7 8 x W. 20 x D. 11 7 16 in. (48 x 50.8 x 29 cm)

Aomori Museum of Art, 1851

this page, bottom Dog from Your Childhood, 1997 Mixed Media H. 15 x W. 17 x D. 18 3 4 in. (38.1 x 43.2 x 47.6 cm)

Aomori Museum of Art, 1850

this page, left Sheep from Your Dream , 1997 Mixed Media H. 18 x W.

this page, left Sheep from Your Dream, 1997 Mixed Media H. 18 x W. 20 x D. 11 1 16 in. (45.7 x 50.8 x 28 cm)

Aomori Museum of Art, 1848

this page, right Round Eyes Pilot, 1997 Mixed Media H. 18 1 2 x W. 16 15 16 x D. 11 7 16 in. (47 x 43 x 29 cm)

Aomori Museum of Art, 1846

⁄ 16 in. (47 x 43 x 29 cm) Aomori Museum of Art, 1846 this page,
⁄ 16 in. (47 x 43 x 29 cm) Aomori Museum of Art, 1846 this page,
⁄ 16 in. (47 x 43 x 29 cm) Aomori Museum of Art, 1846 this page,

this page, left

Little Red Riding Hood, 1997 Mixed Media

H. 22 1 16 x W. 16 x D. 13 in.

(56 x 40.6 x 33 cm)

Aomori Museum of Art, 1849

this page, right

Grinning Little Bunny, 1997 Mixed Media

H. 24 x W. 22 7 8 x D. 14 in.

(61 x 58 x 35.5 cm)

Aomori Museum of Art, 1845

this page, top left Fat Lipp , 1992–2000 pencil and colored pencil on graph paper
this page, top left Fat Lipp , 1992–2000 pencil and colored pencil on graph paper

this page, top left Fat Lipp, 1992–2000

pencil and colored pencil on graph paper

H. 5 7 8 x W. 6 7 8 in. (14.9 x 17.5 cm)

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David Teiger in honor of Agnes Gund

this page, middle

Sheeps Can Never Sleep, 1992–2000 Felt-tip pen on notebook paper

H. 5 7 8 x 4 1 8 in. (14.9 x 10.5 cm)

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David Teiger in honor of Agnes Gund

this page, bottom

Untitled (Girl with hair pulled by a dog), 1992–2000 Colored pencil and pencil on lined paper

H. 4 3 8 x W. 6 in. (11.1 x 15.2 cm)

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David Teiger in honor of Agnes Gund

and promised gift of David Teiger in honor of Agnes Gund this page, top left Untitled
and promised gift of David Teiger in honor of Agnes Gund this page, top left Untitled
and promised gift of David Teiger in honor of Agnes Gund this page, top left Untitled
and promised gift of David Teiger in honor of Agnes Gund this page, top left Untitled

this page, top left Untitled (Spaceship with purple background), 1992–2000

Colored pencil, ballpoint pen, and felt-tip pen on notebook paper

H. 2 3 8 x W. 3 1 8 in. (6 x 7.9 cm)

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David Teiger in honor of Agnes Gund

this page, top right

Untitled (Plant and dog in the rain),

1992–2000

pencil and colored pencil on paper

H. 8 7 8 x W. 4 1 2 in. (22.5 x 11.4 cm)

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David Teiger in honor of Agnes Gund

this page, bottom left Untitled (Dot girl on blue ball),

1992–2000

Ink and colored pencil on printed paper

H. 4 3 4 x W. 3 in. (12.1 x 7.6 cm)

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David Teiger in honor of Agnes Gund

this page, top Untitled, 1997

Colored pencil on paper

H. 11 11 16 x W. 8 3 16 in. (29.7 x 20.8 cm)

Aomori Museum of Art, 1948

this page, middle How Yer Doin?, 1997

Colored pencil on paper

H. 11 11 16 x W. 8 3 16 in. (29.7 x 20.8 cm)

Aomori Museum of Art, 1957

this page, bottom Untitled (Girl in corner on black ground), 1992–2000

Felt-tip pen and colored pencil on graph paper

H. 8 1 4 x W. 5 7 8 in. (21 x 14.9 cm)

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David Teiger in honor of Agnes Gund

and promised gift of David Teiger in honor of Agnes Gund Titanic , 1998 Acrylic and
and promised gift of David Teiger in honor of Agnes Gund Titanic , 1998 Acrylic and
and promised gift of David Teiger in honor of Agnes Gund Titanic , 1998 Acrylic and

Titanic, 1998 Acrylic and colored pencil on paper H. 11 5 8 x W. 8 7 8 in. (29.5 x 22.5 cm)

Collection of shinya Takahashi

pencil on paper H. 11 5 ⁄ 8 x W. 8 7 ⁄ 8 in. (29.5
Walking the Longest Night , 1997 Watercolor on paper H. 11 5 ⁄ 8 x

Walking the Longest Night, 1997 Watercolor on paper H. 11 5 8 x W. 8 3 16 in. (29.5 x 20.8 cm)

Aomori Museum of Art, 1959

3 ⁄ 16 in. (29.5 x 20.8 cm) Aomori Museum of Art, 1959 Untitled ( Dog

Untitled (Dog with headphones),

1992–2000

pencil and crayon on printed paper H. 5 3 8 x W. 5 in. (13.7 x 12.7 cm)

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David Teiger in honor of Agnes Gund

opposite page From the Expanding Watchtower (For “the Dogs from Your Childhood”),

1992–2000

Ballpoint pen on notebook paper H. 8 7 8 x W. 6 in. (22.5 x 15.2 cm)

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David Teiger in honor of Agnes Gund

overleaf Dogs from Your Childhood, 1999 Fiberglass, wood, fabric, acrylic paint Each, H. 72 x W. 60 x D. 40 in. (182.9 x 152.4 x 101.6 cm)

Collection of peter Norton

wood, fabric, acrylic paint Each, H. 72 x W. 60 x D. 40 in. (182.9 x

Just Living in a 2D World, 1999 Acrylic on canvas H. 57 x W. 70 3 4 in. (144.8 x 179.2 cm)

Courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York

canvas H. 57 x W. 70 3 ⁄ 4 in. (144.8 x 179.2 cm) Courtesy of
this page Lotta Leaves Home , 1999 Acrylic on paper H. 28 9 ⁄ 16

this page

Lotta Leaves Home, 1999 Acrylic on paper

H. 28 9 16 x W. 20 1 4 in. (72.5 x 51.5 cm)

Collection of the artist

opposite page

Missing in Action, 1999 Acrylic on canvas

H. 70 x W. 50 in. (177.8 x 127 cm)

Courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York

Acrylic on canvas H. 70 x W. 50 in. (177.8 x 127 cm) Courtesy of the
this page, top Galaxy and Stars , 1992–2000 pencil and colored pencil on notebook paper
this page, top Galaxy and Stars , 1992–2000 pencil and colored pencil on notebook paper
this page, top Galaxy and Stars , 1992–2000 pencil and colored pencil on notebook paper
this page, top Galaxy and Stars , 1992–2000 pencil and colored pencil on notebook paper
this page, top Galaxy and Stars , 1992–2000 pencil and colored pencil on notebook paper
this page, top Galaxy and Stars , 1992–2000 pencil and colored pencil on notebook paper

this page, top Galaxy and Stars, 1992–2000

pencil and colored pencil on notebook paper

H. 8 1 4 x W. 10 1 2 in. (21 x 26.7 cm)

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David Teiger in honor of Agnes Gund

this page, bottom Tell Me the Story of Your Life,

1992–2000

Colored pencil and pencil on graph paper

H. 10 x W. 7 5 8 in. (25.4 x 19.4 cm)

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David Teiger in honor of Agnes Gund

opposite page, top left In the Empty Fortress, 1992–2000

pencil and colored pencil on graph paper

H. 8 1 4 x W. 5 7 8 in. (21 x 14.9 cm)

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David Teiger in honor of Agnes Gund

opposite page, top right

Don’t Say Good Bye, 1992–2000 pencil on graph paper

H. 8 1 4 x W. 5 3 4 in. (21 x 14.6 cm)

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David Teiger in honor of Agnes Gund

opposite page, bottom left See the Light!, 1992–2000

pencil and colored pencil on graph paper

H. 11 5 8 x W. 8 1 4 in. (29.5 x 21 cm)

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David Teiger in honor of Agnes Gund

opposite page, bottom right Drawings, 1992–2000

Ballpoint pen on notebook paper

H. 9 x W. 6 in. (22.9 x 15.2 cm)

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David Teiger in honor of Agnes Gund

this page, top Drawing for Hardboiled and Hard Luck , 1999 Acrylic and colored pencil

this page, top Drawing for Hardboiled and Hard Luck, 1999 Acrylic and colored pencil on paper H. 9 3 4 x W. 9 in. (24.7 x 22.8 cm)

private collection

this page, bottom Drawing for Hardboiled and Hard Luck, 1999 Acrylic and colored pencil on paper H. 10 1 4 x W. 7 1 8 in. (26 x 18 cm)

private collection

4 x W. 7 1 ⁄ 8 in. (26 x 18 cm) private collection Drawing for
4 x W. 7 1 ⁄ 8 in. (26 x 18 cm) private collection Drawing for

Drawing for Hardboiled and Hard Luck, 1999 Acrylic and colored pencil on paper H. 14 3 16 x W. 10 1 8 in. (26 x 25.8 cm)

private collection

this page Pale Mountain Dog , 2000 Acrylic on canvas H. 50 x W. 80

this page Pale Mountain Dog, 2000 Acrylic on canvas H. 50 x W. 80 in. (127 x 203.2 cm)

private collection, New York

opposite page Girl with Her Head in the Clouds, 1999 Gouache on paper H. 16 1 2 x W. 14 in. (41.9 x 35.6 cm)

private collection, New York

the Clouds , 1999 Gouache on paper H. 16 1 ⁄ 2 x W. 14 in.
this page Untitled ( Who Snatched the Babies ) , 2001–2002 Colored pencil on paper

this page

Untitled (Who Snatched the Babies),

2001–2002

Colored pencil on paper

H. 8 3 8 x W. 4 1 2 in. (21.3 x 11.4 cm)

Courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York

opposite page

Untitled [Tamago (Egg)], 2000 Oil on canvas

H. 47 1 4 x W. 43 1 4 in. (120 x 109.9 cm)

Courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York

1 ⁄ 4 x W. 43 1 ⁄ 4 in. (120 x 109.9 cm) Courtesy of

Oh! My God! I Miss You, 2001 synthetic polymer paint and pencil on printed paper H. 20 x W. 14 1 4 in. (50.8 x 36.2 cm)

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David Teiger in honor of Agnes Gund

76

PLEASE SILO

cm) The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David Teiger in
Spring Has Come , 2002 Acrylic on canvas over fiberglass Diam. 37 1 ⁄ 4

Spring Has Come, 2002 Acrylic on canvas over fiberglass Diam. 37 1 4 in. (94.6 cm); D. 5 1 4 in. (13.3 cm)

Courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York

Courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York My 13th Sad Day , 2002

My 13th Sad Day, 2002 Acrylic on canvas over fiberglass Diam. 70 3 4 in. (179.7 cm); D. 10 1 4 in. (26 cm)

Courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York

Gone with the Cloud , 2004 Acrylic on canvas H. 86 1 ⁄ 2 x

Gone with the Cloud, 2004 Acrylic on canvas H. 86 1 2 x W. 74 3 4 in. (220 x 190 cm)

Collection of Charlotte and Bill Ford

4 in. (220 x 190 cm) Collection of Charlotte and Bill Ford Untitled , 2004 Acrylic

Untitled, 2004 Acrylic on canvas H. 47 1 4 x W. 43 5 16 in. (120 x 110 cm)

Collection of Mimi Dusselier, Belgium

Remember Me , 2005 Acrylic on paper H. 55 x W. 55 1 ⁄ 2

Remember Me, 2005 Acrylic on paper H. 55 x W. 55 1 2 in. (139.7 x 141 cm)

private collection, New York

⁄ 2 in. (139.7 x 141 cm) private collection, New York Home , 2006 Acrylic on

Home, 2006 Acrylic on canvas H. 28 9 16 x W. 23 13 16 in. (72.5 x 60.5 cm)

s tefan T. Edlis Collection

Walking Alone , 2006 Colored pencil and ink on cardboard H. 18 1 ⁄ 4

Walking Alone, 2006 Colored pencil and ink on cardboard H. 18 1 4 x W. 17 7 8 in. (46.3 x 45.3 cm)

Collection of the artist

7 ⁄ 8 in. (46.3 x 45.3 cm) Collection of the artist Forever Alone , 2006

Forever Alone, 2006 Acrylic on wood board H. 11 x W. 16 1 8 in. (28 x 41 cm)

private collection

As Tears Go By, 2006 Acrylic and colored pencil on paper H. 53 1 8 x W. 42 7 8 in. (135 x 109 cm)

private collection

Acrylic and colored pencil on paper H. 53 1 ⁄ 8 x W. 42 7 ⁄

Music on My Mind:

The ArT And PhenoMenon of yoshiToMo nArA

Figure 10a Yoshitomo Nara NYC!, 2002 Drawing on front door of Ushio and Noriko Shinohara’s residence in Brooklyn. Drawings underneath are by Alex Shinohara

Miwako Tezuka

I was drawing a lot back then. I had no money to buy canvas because I spent it all buying records.

—Yoshitomo Nara recalling the 1980s 1

Yoshitomo Nara is a popular artist, idolized and followed by die-hard fans, and inspiring many people from all walks of life across the world. His drawings, paintings, and sculptures are instantaneously recognizable through his signature motifs, the majority of which are little children and animals. These subjects are rendered in a uniquely minimalistic manner, which many find have an affinity with Japanese manga comics, anime, and their early modern precursors such as ukiyo-e prints. No one denies his images’ accessibility, which is all too obvious, as Nara’s kids and animals often straddle the space of commercial commodities; from T-shirts, cups, and key-chains, to book illustrations and CD album covers. These many manifestations prove Nara’s willingness to step out of, or rid his work of, the aloofness of high art. There is no doubt that he accumulated specialist knowledge of art during the extended period of time that he spent in art schools in Japan (1979–87) and Germany (1988–93). In hindsight, however, it is almost as though he underwent formal education in order to rebel later against everything that schools are designed to teach, that is to say, the various conventions and intellectualized notions of art. As many of Nara’s commentaries make clear, he felt that the more cerebral his approach to art became, the less true his works were to what he felt was reality, or life. He was most comfortable just drawing, painting, and listening to music. In fact, music was and has been for a long time an enormously important part of this artist’s life, and it cannot be separated from his work as an artist. When we position Nara solely within the context of contemporary Japanese art—as has been done in many recent exhibitions, curatorial essays, and theoretical works—we end up with a limited perspective on the artist. First, ideas concerning

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the subculture of manga and anime overwhelmingly dominate discussion of today’s art in Japan, leaving us with only a partial understanding of the overall environment in which Nara works. Moreover, such a perspective does not let us see the figure of this impassioned artist in his studio, blasting music, fervently drawing his images with real emotional depth—creating figures that breathe ecstatically or contemplatively, and that also often bleed. This essay challenges the flat understanding of Nara’s work as yet more evidence of the effect of manga and anime on contemporary Japanese art. It does so by casting light on his longtime love of music as a fertile source of inspiration that is directly and indirectly manifested in his work.

Nara and Music

and indirectly manifested in his work. Nara and Music After licking the pencil lead, after giving

After licking the pencil lead, after giving it a good lick

Figure 9 Ushio Shinohara, from “Rokabiri gaka” [Rockabilly painter], Shukan Sankei [Weekly Sankei], April 27, 1958

After pushing the Play button on the remote, after the usual count-off rings through the room

“1, 2, 3, 4!”

Even if I can’t find anything to draw

I wait there at my desk

It doesn’t matter whether I see something or not As if I were twisting my head into a crack in time

I push my pencil across the paper

Even when my right hand isn’t shaking hands with my left,

I know they’re clearly linked.

Yoshitomo Nara 2

Nara is a representative Neo Pop artist of 1990s Japan. Pop art, as it is classically defined, signifies various strategic assaults on high art, as first made by British artists such as Richard Hamilton, who integrated elements from popular culture into his art, thus prompting the birth of the term “Pop art” in the 1950s. Pop art caused a paradigm shift in the field of visual art once artists such as Andy Warhol, in the 1960s, fully appropriated the system of mass-production. In Japan the critique of high art, which targeted academicism in particular, began quite independently, fueled by artists who rejected being pigeonholed into the conventions of the 1950s. For instance, Ushio Shinohara, who became a major presence in the 1960s Anti-Art movement in

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Figure 10b View of Ushio and Noriko Shinohara’s residence in Brooklyn. Nara’s drawing NYC! (2002) is seen on the front door.

drawing ♥ NYC! (2002) is seen on the front door. Tokyo, stood out from the crowd

Tokyo, stood out from the crowd with his Mohawk hairstyle, and became known for his Boxing Painting series, literally making artwork by punching fiercely at large canvases. For this daring attitude that appeared to reflect the unruly youth culture of the time, Shinohara gained the title of “rockabilly artist” 3 (fig. 9). His unbridled spirit of rebellion also led him in the mid-1960s to challenge the notion of originality in art and to create a new genre of art he termed “Imitation Art,” utilizing appropriated images of mass-produced commodities and even works by such established artists as Robert Rauschenberg, which reflected the influence of the United States. In short, Shinohara illuminates one facet of Japan’s own breed of pop art that addressed the issue of materialism and the political and cultural relationship of Japan and the United States. Taking into account this culturally specific context, the major artistic trend of 1990s Japan was quite appropriately named “Neo Pop,” as it was the second coming of Pop art; however, this time it came with a completely new object of interest: Japan’s subculture, particularly manga and anime. Neo Pop flourished as the artists of the subculture generation who had spent their childhood years in the 1960s, such as Yoshitomo Nara (born 1959) and Takashi Murakami (born 1962), came of age and became the main players in contemporary art. Japan’s Neo Pop has since grown into a globally influential artistic phenomenon, affecting artists across the world, commanding market interests, and by now acquiring canonical legitimacy as Neo Pop with capital letters. How then, can Nara—an artist who in his heart shares the anti- establishment sentiment of his predecessors, like Shinohara—

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slightly smaller and moved keep his edge in the sleek, anime-like flatness of Japanese Neo Pop
slightly smaller and moved keep his edge in the sleek, anime-like flatness of Japanese Neo Pop

keep his edge in the sleek, anime-like flatness of Japanese Neo Pop (fig. 10a,b)? Music plays a major role for him as artistic inspiration and also as an ethical sounding board. Nara has frequently mentioned his longtime passion for music. Since his teenage years he has shown proclivity toward minor music labels and has searched for music and musicians with less mass appeal. For example, in the early 1970s while his school friends were under the spell of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, Nara was rather fascinated by such cult figures as Bob Dylan, Gram Parsons, Neil Young, David Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust incarnation, and so forth. It was also around this time that he acquired some of the first additions to his now-enormous record collection. When it comes to music, Nara has always preferred anti-commercial and anti-establishment bands and musicians; this musical taste naturally led him to dismiss rock bands from major labels and to discover punk music in the late 1970s. In 1974, the Ramones, one of Nara’s all-time favorites, came upon the New York punk scene with their first performance at CBGB, while a transatlantic implantation of this rebellion against corporate-model rock ’n roll to the United Kingdom resulted in the success of such representative U.K. punk bands as Sex Pistols and The Clash. Almost simultaneously in the latter half of the 1970s, some young and experimental musicians in Japan, energized by this new punk sensibility and aesthetic began to make their statement in attitude in Japan’s music scene. (Fashion always holds the utmost importance in the transplantation of foreign cultures in Japan.) 4

Figure 11 Yoshitomo Nara Pyromaniac Day and Pyromaniac Dead of Night, 1999 Acrylic on canvas Each, H. 47 1 4 x W. 43 5 16 in. (120 x 110 cm)

Collection of Lyor Cohen

hi-res replaced

in. (120 x 110 cm) Collection of Lyor Cohen hi-res replaced Figure 12 R.E.M., I’ll Take

Figure 12 R.E.M., I’ll Take the Rain, 2004 Cover art by Yoshitomo Nara

Nara was in sync with this attitude in the mid-1970s:

hardly a model student, often absent from school, and following the music of pre-punk heroes such as Iggy Pop. His fan activities, interestingly, took the form of not only attending concerts and buying albums, but also painting imaginary album cover art and drawing pictures of his rock star idols. There is no shortage of similarly direct associations between Nara and the world of music in the following decades; these range from Nara himself performing as a musician during his college years as a member of the band Kazoku Keikaku (The Family Plan; its music was in the same vein as the New York Dolls), to providing album art to bands such as The Star Club, Shonen Knife, and R.E.M., to name just a few (figs. 11 and 12). Nara had always considered album art an important form of visual art born of “a collaboration between sound and image,” even before he started to receive commissions for it as an artist. Nara has even taken part in recordings by the aforementioned veteran Japanese punk band from Nagoya, The Star Club. His adoration for rock figures, such as Japan’s recently deceased rock legend Kiyoshiro Imawano (1951–2009), adds to the list of his fan interests. Nara’s frequent blog entries on subjects related to music further reveal a colorful image of this artist as a devout music fan. 5 As evidenced by the frequent appearance of fragments of punk and rock lyrics in his works and their titles since the 1980s, Nara was consuming the music and was consumed by the anti-establishment spirit of punk and New Wave (post-punk), identifying with its emotional intensity. By the time he left for Germany in 1988 to attend the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Nara’s love of music, along with his adolescent years’ hobby of writing poetry, had fully migrated to another medium, drawing. The physical and temporal immediacy that Nara found in the execution of drawing made it well suited for the spontaneous expression of raw emotions. It is this nature of live engagement in Nara’s work that directly aligns him with musicians, whose trade allows them a physical relationship with their medium, sound. Independent curator Takashi Azumaya described this affinity:

As though to exalt himself, a rock musician can share mental impulses with his audience in real time depending on the beat or the warped guitar sound he plays. Likewise, Nara realizes something within his inner self as he uses his materials and simple images. His materials are his guitar, while images are his melody, his beat. 6

Nara created his very first album art in 1990 for The Birdy Num Nums, active in the German New Wave music scene of the late 1980s and the early 1990s. During the mid-1990s he

Figure 13 Yoshitomo Nara The Girl with the Knife in Her Hand , 1991 Acrylic

Figure 13

Yoshitomo Nara

The Girl with the Knife in Her Hand,

1991

Acrylic on cotton H. 59 1 16 x W. 55 1 8 in. (150 x 140 cm)

Collection of Vicki and Kent Logan, fraction and promised gift to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

gained increasing exposure within the art scene, with gallery exhibitions in Germany and in Japan, while his music mania became known to some Japanese punk bands, such as Shonen Knife and The Star Club, who then commissioned him to create their album covers. 7 Quite unintentionally, Nara enhanced the spread of his reputation by reaching audiences from both the music world at the forefront of popular culture, and the art world, which is often equated with high culture. At this unique intersection of high and low, his “fandom” began to form. For instance, the catalogues In the Deepest Puddle (1997) and Slash with a Knife (1998) from Nara’s solo exhibitions have become cult objects. The growth of his fan-base was greatly accelerated again in 1999 when he began blogging on the website Happy Hour, duly named after Shonen Knife’s album title. The website was, in fact, initially put together by one of Nara’s fans and was not supported by any art-driven business establishment, a phenomenon keeping true to Nara’s denial of the corporate business model of operation. What solidifies and expands this fandom are the accessible and unforgettably cute images Nara has been creating since

the early 1990s (Fig. 13). Nara’s figures of small children and animals stand alone in an empty space without any geographical or temporal specificity that requires sets of codes—cultural or otherwise—to decipher. They are minimally figurative and highly abstracted images. In short, his children, dogs, and other creatures are presented barefaced, without any symbolic expression that implies a message or an intention to communicate. 8 Nara tries to rid them of such coding, and instead, extracts the kind of authentic experience a child has just before he or she becomes a syntactical existence that acquires meaning only in relation to others, a society, an environment, culture, and history. Nara explains that he is searching for his “real reality: the first experience of heat, the first experience of sweetness, the first experience of sadness, and the first experience of being

I’m not particularly expressing a

message to others.” 9 The fewer details Nara depicts, the greater the audience he reaches, but this alone would not have been enough to turn his audience into fans and to further solidify the bond of his fandom. Often accompanying the images in his numerous drawings are fragments of lyrics taken from rock and punk songs: the title of the drawing Blitz Krieg Bop, for example, is an obvious reference to the Ramones; and the phrase “kind of sucks never having money, but kinda cool to choose a dream,” which recurs in his drawings, is taken from a song by California punk band Atomic Boy (fig. 14). Many of his larger paintings are also entitled with phrases or references to songs or musicians of his liking: his painting entitled It’s Better to Burn Out refers to Kurt Cobain as well as Neil Young; the title for White Riot is taken straight from the title of a song of major importance by The Clash; and so forth. A symbolic depth in Nara’s work is discovered with pleasure by the knowing audiences who read these texts. While the images are intentionally devoid of symbolic expressions, the words fill in the gaps in the minds of his audience with poetry, sounds, and even the exalted feelings felt during live performances. They are mnemonic devices surrounding a single image and can be woven together selectively by each individual, making the viewing of the work an intimate and personal encounter, a kind of Proustian experience. Such an affective reaction is what essentially makes a fan. 10

bullied or bullying

Nara’s fandom is built on the common practices of identification with a star; fans seek proximity to Nara through going to exhibitions, and reproducing that experience by chatting on the Internet or by collecting fan objects such as CDs with Nara’s album art or other items he has designed. Indeed, Nara has offered an abundance of replicated experience for his fans by contributing illustrations to novels by such popular writers as Banana Yoshimoto, and has published a children’s book entitled The Lonesome Puppy, written and

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larger Figure 14 Yoshitomo Nara Untitled ( Who Snatched the Babies ), 2001–2002 Colored pencil and

Figure 14 Yoshitomo Nara Untitled (Who Snatched the Babies),

2001–2002

Colored pencil and graphite on paper H. 10 1 2 x W. 8 in. (26.7 x 20.3 cm)

Courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York

illustrated by the artist himself. In terms of making work for anxiously awaiting true fans, Nara has no hesitation in providing images for mass consumption. Needless to say, the products on which his kids and animals often appear do not demand intellectualization. But, even in the form of his larger-scale paintings, he asks that viewers take his images at face value and do not philosophize what they see as high art; the paintings demand a naked emotional response. Nara’s art, in short, asks for self-reflection on the part of the viewers. Art for art’s sake is replaced by art for people’s sake. In this sense, his is “pop” art of a new sort, going against the purity of high modernist forms and aesthetics that stand in contrast to kitsch. 11 Nara channels the audience’s emotions, and the empathetic attachment and sympathy that many develop with Nara’s work stem from this shift of focus from the

author to the viewer. This may seem to diminish the presence of the artist. On the contrary, Yoshitomo Nara has already become an icon with an enormous and ever-growing fandom.

The Nara Playlist and the Spirit of DiY

A.L.Lloyd / Leviathan Alabama State Troupers / Road Show Alan Gerber / Alan Gerber Album Al Anderson / Al Anderson Al Kooper / I Stand Alone Al Stewart / Year of the Cat Al Stewart / Orange Alan Hull / Pipedream Albion Country Band / Battle of the Field Albion Dance Band / The Prospect Before Us Alex Taylor / Dinnertime Allman Brothers Band / Fillmore West Allman Brothers Band / Eat A Peach Alvin Lee & Mylon Le Fevre / On The Road To Freedom

— from Yoshitomo Nara, “My record collection (pre-punk)” 12

One of the main methods through which Nara communicates with his fans, particularly Japanese fans given that it is written in Japanese, is his blog Nara Voice. 13 For an artist who opens his studio space only to those who are the absolute closest to him, Nara Voice is a surprisingly candid exposé of his life, and as such, its effect on his fans and the formation of a kind of cult of personality should not be overlooked. From his blog entries, it is clear that art and music are intimately interwoven in Nara’s daily life. For instance, a report of his installation work in Australia might be followed, a few days later, by comments on a meeting with family members back in Aomori, then again a week later, by an entry excitedly reporting his recent experience of a rock concert elsewhere in Japan. One of the most extensive blog entries to date—in fact, multiple entries written over five weeks from April 16 to May 24, 2009—consists of a list of Nara’s favorite records from his “pre-punk” period, sorted in alphabetical order, along with his recollection of a night in 1977, when he first heard the Ramones, Sex Pistols, The Clash, and Bob Marley on the radio. Those entries were perhaps the most revealing of his personality, as this playlist of sorts tells his personal history by relating it not only to a certain moment in his past but also to zeitgeist, the spirit of the age. 14 The rise of punk music in the late 1970s marked a time of change in Nara’s personal history. This musical revolution in popular culture is often interpreted as the summation

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moved Figure 15 The Ramones, January 1976 of the rebellious spirit of youth who saw the

Figure 15 The Ramones, January 1976

of the rebellious spirit of youth who saw the distressing aftermath of the 1960s student movement as hippie culture was absorbed during the 1970s into the mainstream, and the Vietnam War evolved into a hopeless mess. At the same time, an oil crisis in 1973 brought on one of the worst economic recessions in history. In the context of the time, the punk movement reconstituted the platform of protest set up by the preceding hippie generation as an expressive force field where concerns of culture, society, politics, and economy converged. Writing in 1979, artist Dan Graham made an analogy between the mode of expression of 1960s Pop artists and that of 1970s punks, particularly Devo and the Ramones, and identified their common target as “the myth of individualism” and the hegemony of profit-driven corporate capitalism that manufactures that myth. In the case of the latter generation, Graham understood that “they prefer to package themselves rather than be packaged by the media or the record industry” (fig. 15). Graham further analyzed punk’s use of editing, appropriating, and remixing of existing materials as a corrosive attack on the conventions of the music industry (and by extension, of consumer society) and “the spectator’s passivity in favor of a ‘do-it-yourself’ production of spectacle.” 15 It was, indeed, this do-it-yourself spirit that propelled the youth of the 1970s to pick up their own musical instruments even without formal training, and to create their music in the way they wanted. In Japan, according to sociologist and cultural theorist Yoshitaka Mori, through what he coined as the “DiY” culture of the late 1970s and the early 1980s,

Japanese youth reclaimed their autonomy by establishing an alternative method of communication and distribution of information, in part enabled by the spread of cassette tapes. (I have adopted Mori’s use of the acronym “DiY,” which is spelled with a lowercase “i” in order to differentiate the principle of “do-it-yourself” as a cultural movement with punk lineage, from “DIY,” an acronym often used to mass- market various materials, tools, and how-to guides.) 16 This rebellious mode of operation among the youth generation in various parts of the world essentially represents the punk spirit, and as both Graham and Mori succinctly illustrate, unlike the 1960s student movement, DiY was a movement with

a less strictly political nature, but one with a strong

relation to cultural context and to the interests of a growing media society. This cultural context of the late 1970s to the early 1980s, the height of punk culture, had a definitive influence on the development of the artistic stance, or even ethics, of

Yoshitomo Nara. Punk culture proclaimed its alliance to freedom of expression even if it was criticized for its amateurism or was simply dismissed as a juvenile outpouring of passion and frustration. What was important to punk youth remained the spirit of DiY and the refusal to accept mainstream corporate factories feeding cultural products to passive audiences. This rebellious attitude echoes strongly in Nara’s motto, a phrase that appears often in his work and writing, “never forget your beginner’s spirit.” It is a credo that constantly reminds him of working directly from his internal urges and not in response to external demand, whether this demand is the expected division between high art and popular culture, or the market expectations of his style of work. 17 Today, history seems to be eerily repeating itself, and some popular music critics in Japan have even forecasted a revival, or rejuvenation, of punk spirit under the contemporary cultural and economic conditions. From a particularly Japanese perspective, Yoshitaka Mori explains that since the burst of the bubble economy in the 1990s, there has loomed a feeling that everything is over, and that nobody has any control over the course of decline as long as people depend on the existing, but proven to be dysfunctional, system provided by industry and government. People started to sense that “what we think of as our own everyday life isn’t really ours.” Mori detects that this recognition of lost autonomy has been motivating some people to revive focus on the DiY spirit, particularly since the coming of the new millennium. 18 It may

be possible to consider Nara as a phenomenon that corresponds

with or prefigured this zeitgeist of the new millennium. His decision to stay in Germany was propelled by his urge to find his own time and space, away from the everyday life that did not feel fully his own. In this foreign land where

he faced a language barrier, Nara ultimately found his voice

in his signature-style works. His “collaboration” with music in producing album art, and communicating directly with the public through Nara Voice have both allowed him to present

his works and thoughts while avoiding full subjugation under institutional or commercial control. He once recalled his state of mind at the beginning of his journey as an artist:

“I had no desire to show my work [at museums and galleries].

I just had this urge to paint and put my feeling into

some kind of expression, but not through something like an exhibition.” 19 This is the beginner’s spirit to which Nara always returns.

Jamming with Nara

Exhibitions, starting my homepage, reviews in magazines, all these things made me become aware of my own activities, and I began to think that I must walk on the real streets. I used to be scared of facing the real streets, and I was escaping into the streets of the past out of fear.

— Yoshitomo Nara, July 2000 20

The social dimension of Nara’s work has been growing since his return to Japan from his relatively ascetic lifestyle in Germany from 1988 to 2000. One trigger to this direction seems to have come with the use of his website and blog. The public nature of such domains, although in a virtual space, has clearly brought Nara to face a new horizon, expanding far outside of his studio, or, more accurately, expanding his studio far into the outside world. From this perspective, an institutional environment like a museum might be seen as an increasingly unlikely site of imagination and creation. There is, however, a way to follow the spirit of DiY by rethinking conventional space just as the punk movement developed a way to create alternative spaces by mimicking, or hijacking, existing spaces of media and display, from printed media like newspapers and magazines to physical spaces like empty garages, parking lots, and apartments. An extension of this strategy of “culture jamming” is seen in Nara’s more recent engagements with large-scale installations that call for the participation of the public. 21 The year 2001 was a turning point for Nara in that his first major solo exhibition, “I Don’t Mind, If You Forget Me,” took place at the Yokohama Museum of Art, followed by a national tour in Japan with a final show in 2002 at the Yoshii Brick Brewhouse in Hirosaki, Aomori prefecture, Nara’s hometown in northern Japan. 22 The grand tour generated much media coverage that popularized the catchphrase “the

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that popularized the catchphrase “the slightly larger Figure 16a,b Yoshitomo Nara + graf “Yoshitomo Nara +

Figure 16a,b Yoshitomo Nara + graf “Yoshitomo Nara + graf: A to Z,” 2006 Yoshii Brick Brewhouse, Hirosaki, Aomori prefecture, Japan

Yoshii Brick Brewhouse, Hirosaki, Aomori prefecture, Japan 100 miwako tezuka music on my mind: the art

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slightly smaller year of Narakami,” summing up the rapidly growing popularity of two artists with personalities
slightly smaller year of Narakami,” summing up the rapidly growing popularity of two artists with personalities

year of Narakami,” summing up the rapidly growing popularity of two artists with personalities quite opposite from each other, Nara and Takashi Murakami, who also had a major solo exhibition at Tokyo’s Museum of Contemporary Art in the same year. 23 The significance of Nara’s 2001 exhibition, which included around forty new drawings, paintings, three- dimensional works, and installation pieces, is twofold: it was Nara’s first large-scale solo exhibition in Japan; secondly, it grew into a unique social experiment when it reached Hirosaki. The last venue, the Yoshii Brick Brewhouse, was not a conventional museum space, as in previous tour locations, but an alternative art gallery converted from a former apple liquor brewery. In fact, the repurposing of this old building was under discussion among the locals for over ten years, and the final decision to turn it into an art space was reached in order to accommodate Nara’s exhibition. The oldest brewery of its kind in the country, the massive brick building was devoid of institutional infrastructure, and it immediately inspired Nara to expand the aim of the exhibition. What started as an introduction of his work to Japanese audiences turned into an occasion for engaging Hirosaki’s local community in a variety of ways. The exhibition was organized and installed solely by

opposite page, left Figure 17a Yoshitomo Nara U-ki-yo-e, 1999 Oil on book page

H. 16 5 8 x W. 13 in. (42.4 x 33 cm)

Collection of Eileen Harris Norton

opposite page, right Figure 17b

Kitagawa Utamaro (Japanese, 1753?–1806) The Light-hearted Type (also called The Fancy-Free Type) (Uwaki no so), from the series Ten Types in the Physiognomic Study of Women (Fujin sogaku juttai) Japan, Edo Period, ca. 1792–93. Woodblock print; ink, color, and mica on paper

H. 14 7 8 x W. 9 7 8 in. (37.8 x 25.1 cm)

Asia Society, New York:

Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection,

1979.219

In 1999, Nara created series of works titled U-ki-yo-e, also known as the In the Floating World series, in which he chose sixteen Japanese ukiyo-e masterpieces. He drew on reproductions of the works and then made color copies of them, his modern-day printmaking technique. One of those sixteen works is Nara’s makeover of the late eighteenth-century beauty by Kitagawa Utamaro. An original ukiyo-e print of this famous work is in Asia Society’s Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection.

community volunteers, and financial support came only from local individuals and businesses, instead of depending on public funding, which was a more common practice in Japan for art exhibitions. 24 The 2001–2002 exhibition spawned a sense of revived community and the realization of autonomous creative power that was different from one that is administered, controlled,

and subsidized by regional or national government authorities.

A fertile potential emerged from this democratic, social

engagement for future activities in arts and culture that continues to rejuvenate the region today. The local organizers’ exhibition statement ended with a vision of hope: “We hope that this background information will give you a fresh perspective on art and the role art can play in a community.” 25 The largest culture jamming that Nara has realized so far was his 2006 exhibition, Yoshitomo Nara + graf: “A to Z,” again at the Yoshii Brick Brewhouse (fig. 16a,b). The exhibition was a mind-boggling feat that brought together more than

130,000 volunteers (from all over Japan, from other parts of Asia, particularly Korea, and some even from Europe) to create twenty-six house-like installations, corresponding to all the letters of the alphabet, from A to Z. The project also included a couple dozen other substructures and myriad displays of works

by Nara and collaborating artists. The enormous “village” that

Nara and his main collaborator, design unit graf, built with volunteers was a bricolage in many senses: they often made do with available materials, worked according to an organic thought process rather than strictly engineering all the details, and the creative role of each participant fluidly changed from time to time. 26 “A to Z” came together essentially as a sort of folk art shared by many “everyday folks,” and during its three-month-long run, it attracted 80,000 people to this small town located hours away from Tokyo, Japan’s cultural center. 27 What made this so-called miracle exhibition possible was the magnitude of Nara’s popularity and the enormous ability of his fandom to mobilize itself to work together for a shared ideal and goal even without having had any formal art training, an extreme manifestation of the spirit of DiY.

From Punk to Folk

We should rediscover art that exists in what we think of as subculture. It’s strong and real anywhere you bring it because it’s directly born of the everyday folks (minshu) rather than of tradition, and related to their everyday life.

— Yoshitomo Nara, July 2000 (fig. 17a,b) 28

Beyond the iconic image of this artist and his individual works, one may question the

Beyond the iconic image of this artist and his individual works, one may question the reason why such a populist phenomenon is happening today around Yoshitomo Nara. The difference between this 1990s Neo Pop artist and the 1960s Pop artists may be in their manner of engagement with the everyday environment. Roy Lichtenstein once claimed that “Pop looks out into the world; it appears to accept its environment, which is not good or bad, but different—another state of mind.” 29 While appropriating images from outside the conventions of fine art, classic Pop artists kept an ironic poker face amidst the busy culture industry. In the case of Nara, however, he does not seem to accept easily the worldly environment as is; he and his subjects of children and animals are deep in the vernacular and emotionally engage or identify with the people in it. Making a timely parallel to Nara’s move toward the socio- democratic sensibility, there has been an increasing awareness of an emerging civic society in Japan since the new millennium. This was already predicated in the decentralization of the Japanese art scene that began in the late 1990s with the proliferation of art projects in rural or regional cities (Toride Art Project, Hiroshima Art Project); the countryside (Echigo- Tsumari Triennale); and remote islands (Naoshima Art Island)— namely, anywhere outside Japan’s cultural center, Tokyo. These art projects demonstrate the belief in the social role of art that is integral to local communities, environment, and the cultural economy without (or with little) top-down legislative control. 30 Such a belief is essentially a refrain of Nara’s view on the strength of the subculture that emerges from everyday life. In this subculture, patrons are the everyday folks,

Figure 18 Yoshitomo Nara Untitled (Lonely), 2008 Acrylic on wood panel H. 91 x W. 193 x D. 5 in. (231.1 x 490.2 x 12.7 cm)

Courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles

not authorities. One probable trigger of this tidal change was the establishment of the new “Law to Promote Specified Nonprofit Activities” in 1998. By this law, citizens’ proactive social and cultural initiatives were recognized as a vital force in the creation of a civic society. Numerous certified nonprofit organizations have sprung up in the past decade, in fact, including Harappa, which was born out of the volunteers involved in Nara’s exhibition “I Don’t Mind, If You Forget Me” in Hirosaki. While pun k music remains an important part of his inspirational source, Nara has started to reflect on what can be categorized into various subgenres of folk music that came before punk. In the June 29, 2009, entry in Nara Voice, Nara translates “Streets of London,” 31 a 1969 song written by Ralph McTell, an important British folk singer-songwriter (fig. 18):

So how can you tell me you’re lonely And say for you that the sun don’t shine?

you’re lonely And say for you that the sun don’t shine? Let me take you by

Let me take you by the hand and Lead you through the streets of London Show you something To make you change your mind

of London Show you something To make you change your mind There have been numerous reports

There have been numerous reports of social ills and how today’s younger generation is affected by disillusionment and nihilism. It may be a sign of quiet social disorder and distortion caused by the disintegration of family ties and diminishing connections to the world outside the small enclosure of one’s private space that has led to the loss of community. If the above song is any indication, Nara is hearing the echo of these lyrics in today’s society, which appears disinterested in its constituents. In the current socio-cultural and political climate, it might sound naive to imagine the possibility of a safe haven, not as a grandiose utopia built on a national ideology but one that comes in a more human scale, where personal effects, things given by your beloved, and fragmentary memories of happy moments from your childhood are all kept safe. At least, Nara is still fighting to save these trifling, but precious, things and in doing so has built quite a large following of genuine fans. In keeping with the spirit of the original punks, we may all join the cultural insurgency of DiY (fig. 19).

When I wake up in the morning, my faith in love remains. — From “Nobody’s Fool,” by Dan Penn

moved

moved Figure 19 Yoshitomo Nara 1. 2. 3. 4. Change the History , 2007 Billboard painting,

Figure 19 Yoshitomo Nara 1. 2. 3. 4. Change the History, 2007 Billboard painting, acrylic on wood H. 74 3 8 x W. 55 1 5 x D. 3 1 8 in. (189 x 141 x 8 cm)

Private collection, courtesy CAC Málaga

Notes I would like to than k Dr. Reiko Tomii and Dr. Adrian Favell for reading the early draft of this text. I am particularly grateful for Reiko’s feedback on the art historical context of post-1945 Japanese art, and for Adrian’s insights into pun k and post-pun k music trends as well as his comments on Japanese Neo Pop artists. Throughout these citations, unless otherwise noted, entries from the

artist’s blog, Nara Voice, can be found by adding the number listed after the date of the blog entry to the following URL: http://harappa-h.org/modules/ xeblog/index.php?action_xeblog _details=1&blog _id=

1. The quotation at the begin ning of this chapter comes from Yoshitomo Nara, “Early Works,” Bijutsu techo 790 (July 2000): 79. All translations from Japanese to English are by the author unless otherwise noted.

2. Kenjiro Hosaka and Reiko Nakamura, eds., A Perspective on Contemporary Art 6:

Emotional Drawing (Tokyo: The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, 2008), 14.

3. “Rokabiri gaka” [Rockabilly Painter], Shukan Sankei, April 27, 1958, reproduced in Ushio Shinohara, Zen’ei no michi [The Way of Avant-garde] (Tokyo: Bijutsu Shuppansha), 31–33. The reference is also available (in Japanese only) at

http://www.new-york-art.com/zen-ei-dai-05.htm.

4. Yoshitomo Nara, Chiisana hoshi tsushin [The Little Star Dweller] (Tokyo:

Rockin’On, 2004), 15–17; Yoshitomo Nara, “Rekodo korekushon (Pun k izen) G.H.I.” [My record collection (pre-pun k) G.H.I.], Harappa Tsu-shin: Nara Voice, April 17, 2009, 107 (accessed January 13, 2010). “Yoshitomo Nara:

True Story,” compiled by Yayoi Kojima, Bijutsu techo 790 (July 2000): 90. For more details about his early years, see an interview with the artist by Melissa Chiu in this publication. Jon Savage, England’s Dreaming:

Anarchy, Sex Pistols, Punk Rock, and Beyond, revised edition (New York:

St. Martin’s/Griffin, 2002).

5. “Yoshitomo Nara: True Story,” 90–91. Yoshitomo Nara, “Rekodo jaketto no hanashi” [On record jackets], Harappa Tsu-shin: Nara Voice, November 5, 2008, 75 (accessed January 13, 2010). Yoshitomo Nara, “5-gatsu 2-ka” [May

2], Harappa Tsu-shin: Nara Voice posting about the passing of Kiyoshiro Imawano, May 6, 2009, 117 (accessed January 13, 2010); and “Nagoya e” [To Nagoya], Harappa Tsu-shin: Nara Voice posting about Yo La Tengo, December 20, 2009, 221 (accessed January 13, 2010).

6. Takashi Azumaya, “Yoshitomo Nara: His Gothic Innocent World,” in Yoshitomo Nara: From the Depth of My Drawer, ed. Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art (Seoul:

Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, 2005), 50.

7. Albums with Nara’s cover art include Happy Hour by Shonen Knife (1998); Pyromaniac (1999), Kitty Missiles (1999), and Trigger (2000) by The Star Club; Pretend Hits (2001) by The Busy Signals; I’ll Take the Rain (2001) by R.E.M.; Splay (2002) and Houseplant (2009) by AlasNoAxis; Kimi Ga Suki– Raifu (2003) by Matthew Sweet; Suspended Animation (2005) by Fantômas; Banging the Drum (2005) and Guitarist o korosanaide (2007) by Bloodthirsty Butchers; Bloodthirsty Butchers vs +/– (2005) by Bloodthirsty Butchers / +/–; Cloudy, Later Fine (2005) by Tiki Tiki Bamboooos; Out (2006) by Day & Taxi; Wasurenagusa (2007) by Takako Tate; There is Nothing (2007) by Absynthe Minded; Punk in a Coma (2009) by Momokomotion; Ramones Not Dead! (2002), a tribute album to the Ramones by various artists; and Je suis comme je suis (2004), a tribute album to Jacques Prévert by various artists.

8. In discussing this lack of sy mbolic expressions, art critic Noi Sawaragi points out the similarity between Nara’s work and the works by such manga artists as Kyoko Okazaki. See Noi Sawaragi, “Nan no maebure mo naku, potto dento ga tsuku yoni” [All of a Sudden, Just Like Light Suddenly Comes On], Bijutsu techo 790 (July 2000): 58–61.

9. “Sekai no mado o hiraku hyogen: Nara Yoshitomo X Yoshimoto Takaaki tettei togi” [Ex pressions that Open a Window to the World: Yoshitomo Nara X Takaaki Yoshimoto In-depth Discussion], Eureka (October 2001): 182.

10. Jonatha n Gray, Cor nel Sa ndvoss, a nd C. Lee Harrin gton, “Introduction:

W h y Study Fa ns?” in Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World, eds. Jonatha n Gray, Cor nel Sa ndvoss, a nd C. Lee Harrin gton (New York; London: New York University Press, 2007), 10. The appeal of this hybrid puzzle or game-like quality of Nara’s work could also be studied in relation to the artist’s interest in poetry and its associative capacity, particularly in the usage of simile and metaphor. For this approach,

Takaaki Yoshimoto’s interview with Nara is insightful. See “Sekai no mado o hiraku hyogen,” 168–83.

11. Clement Greenberg, “Avant-Garde and Kitsch,” originally written in 1939 for Partisan Review, reprinted in Art and Culture: Critical Essays (Boston:

Beacon Press, 1961), 3–21. Greenberg itemizes samples of kitsch as “popular, commercial art and literature with their chromeotypes, magazine covers, illustrations, ads, slick and pulp fiction, comics, Tin Pan Alley music, tap dancing, Hollywood movies, etc., etc.” and surmises that “[k]itsch is the

epitome of all that is spurious in the life of our times” as opposed to pure aesthetics and forms studied by avant-garde artists.

12. Yoshitomo Nara, “Rekodo korekushon (Pun k izen) C.D.” [My record collection (pre-pun k) C.D.], Harappa Tsu-shin: Nara Voice, April 13, 2009, 101 (accessed December 29, 2009).

13. Yoshitomo Nara, “New Morning 2010,” Harappa Tsu-shin: Nara Voice, January 2, 2010, http://harappa-h.org/modules/xeblog/?action_xeblog _index=1&cat_ id=4. (This is the URL of the most current blog posting at the time of writing, and accessed January 13, 2010.)

14. Yoshitomo Nara, “Rekodo korekushon (Pun k izen) A.B.” [My record collection (pre-pun k) A.B.], Harappa Tsu-shin: Nara Voice, April 10, 2009, 99 (accessed January 13, 2010). Yoshitomo Nara, “Rekodo korekushon (Pun k izen) C.D.” [My record collection (pre-pun k) C.D.], Harappa Tsu-shin:

Nara Voice, April 13, 2009, 101 (accessed January 13, 2010). Yoshitomo Nara, “Rekodo korekushon (Pun k izen) E.F.” [My record collection (pre- pun k) E.F.], Harappa Tsu-shin: Nara Voice, April 15, 2009, 104 (accessed January 13, 2010). Yoshitomo Nara, “Rekodo korekushon (Pun k izen) G.H.I.” [My record collection (pre-pun k) G.H.I.], Harappa Tsu-shin: Nara Voice, April 17, 2009, 107 (accessed January 13, 2010). Yoshitomo Nara, “Rekodo korekushon (Pun k izen) J.” [My record collection (pre-pun k) J.], Harappa Tsu-shin: Nara Voice, April 18, 2009, 109 (accessed January 13, 2010). Yoshitomo Nara, “Rekodo korekushon (Pun k izen) K.L.” [My record collection (pre-pun k) K.L.], Harappa Tsu-shin: Nara Voice, April 25, 2009, 112 (accessed January 13, 2010). Yoshitomo Nara, “Rekodo korekushon (Pun k izen) M.N.O.” [My record collection (pre-pun k) M.N.O.], Harappa Tsu-shin:

Nara Voice, April 29, 2009, 114 (accessed January 13, 2010). Yoshitomo Nara, “Rekodo korekushon (Pun k izen) P.Q.” [My record collection (pre- pun k) P.Q.], Harappa Tsu-shin: Nara Voice, May 6, 2009, 118 (accessed January 13, 2010). Yoshitomo Nara, “Rekodo korekushon (Pun k izen) R.” [My record collection (pre-pun k) R.], Harappa Tsu-shin: Nara Voice, May 9, 2009, 121 (accessed January 13, 2010). Yoshitomo Nara, “Rekodo korekushon (Pun k izen) S.” [My record collection (pre-pun k) S.], Harappa Tsu-shin:

Nara Voice, May 12, 2009, 123 (accessed January 13, 2010). Yoshitomo Nara, “Rekodo korekushon (Pun k izen) T.” [My record collection (pre-pun k) T.], Harappa Tsu-shin: Nara Voice, May 22, 2009, 125 (accessed January 13, 2010). Yoshitomo Nara, “Rekodo korekushon (Pun k izen) U.V.W.X.Y.Z.” [My record collection (pre-pun k) U.V.W.X.Y.Z.], Harappa Tsu-shin: Nara Voice, May 23, 2009, 126 (accessed January 13, 2010). Yoshitomo Nara, “Rekodo

” [My record collection, I found the stuff

], Harappa Tsu-shin: Nara Voice, May 24, 2009, 127 (accessed

korekushon VA ttenoga atta

under VA

January 13, 2010).

15. Dan Graham, “Punk as Propaganda,” in Rock My Religion: Writings and Art Projects, 1965–1990, ed. Brian Wallis (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1993), 96–99.

16. Yoshitaka Mori, Hajimete no DiY: nandemo okane de kaeru to omounayo! [Introduction to DiY: Don’t Thin k Everything Can Be Bought By Money!] (Tokyo: Blues Interactions, 2008), 40–50; Yoshitaka Mori, Sutorito no shiso: tenkan-ki to shite no 1990-nendai [Ideology of the Street: The 1990s as a Turning Point] (Tokyo: NHK Books, 2009), 64–65.

17. The theory of Micropop put forth by art critic Midori Matsui has much relevancy in considering the rebellious nature of Nara’s work. Matsui has interpreted the images of adolescent imaginations and obsessions proliferating in contemporary Japanese art to have an explosive power vis-à-vis canonical and “mature” modernism, and her term “Micropop” identifies artists whose work exhibits such a seemingly self-absorbed yet radical man ner of rebellion. Her critical analysis draws on various philosophical discussions presented by Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, Michel de Certeau, and Julia Kristeva about the cultural creativity of minorities—those who are at a secondary political, social, cultural, and/ or economical strata within a certain predominant system; for instance,

diasporic subjects and consumers (as opposed to producers). In her theory, Matsui positions Nara as a key artist who daringly returned to figurative paintings in the 1990s while they were still marginalized within the context of modernist art. See Midori Matsui, “New Openings in Japanese Painting: Three Faces of Minor-ity,” in Painting at the Edge of the World, ed. Douglas Fogle (New York: D.A.P., 2001), 46–77; Midori Matsui, The Age of Micropop: The New Generation of Japanese Artists (Tokyo: Parco Co., 2007), 28–37. See also her further analysis of the art of Nara in relation to the context of Japanese subculture in this publication.

18. Tomoko Nakagome, “Getto za gurori: gekido no pan ku-shi Nihon hen” [Get the Glory: The Turbulent History of Pun k, Version Japan], Rolling Stone Japan 3, no. 28 (July 2009): 51. Mori, Sutorito no shiso, 169–249.

19. “Sekai no mado o hiraku hyogen,” 171.

20. Yoshitomo Nara, “Rongu intaby u: Nara Yoshitomo, tabi no tochu de” [A Long Interview: Yoshitomo Nara, in the Middle of His Journey], Bijutsu techo 52, no. 790 (July 2000): 42.

21. Mori, Hajimete no DiY, 46–48. Ibid., 47.

22. The title is taken from a song on Morrissey’s solo album Viva Hate from 1988. Between Yokohama and Hirosaki, the exhibition traveled to Ashiya City Museum of Art and History, Hyogo prefecture; Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Hiroshima prefecture; and Hokkaido Asahikawa Museum of Art, Hokkaido.

23. Kai Itoi, “Japan’s Year of Narakami,” artnet.com (October 2001), http://w w w. artnet.com/magazine/features/itoi/itoi10-22-01.asp (accessed November 11,

2009).

24. Yoshitomo Nara Exhibition Hirosaki Committee, ed., Yoshitomo NARA: From the Depth of My Drawer, Yoshii Brick Brewhouse, Hirosaki (Hirosaki, 2005), n.p.

25. “Information about the Exhibition” from Yoshii Brick Brewhouse’s exhibition archive web page as linked to the website of NPO Harappa: http://harappa-h. org/narahiro_2003/en/youko.htm (accessed January 13, 2010).

26. “Cross Talk: Jun Aoki, Yoshitomo Nara, Hideki Toyoshima” in A to Z:

Yoshitomo Nara + graf (Tokyo: Foil, 2006), n.p. See also Toyoshima’s essay on the collaboration between Nara and graf in this publication.

27. Writing for ArtForum at the time of the “A to Z” exhibition, Midori Matsui noted that “Nara’s work has become a contemporary equivalent of folk art, representing and consoling even people who otherwise feel alienated from modern art.” Matsui’s report was, however, critical of the exhibition itself as it ultimately exposed the ambiguous relation between “democratic open ness” and “regressive populism.” See Midori Matsui, “A to Z: Yoshii Brick Brewhouse,” ArtForum (December 2006), (accessible at

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0268/is_4_45/ai_n21130337/).

28. Nara, “Rongu intaby u,” 44, 46.

29. Roy Lichtenstein’s comment from 1963, as quoted in Graham, “Pun k as Propaganda,” 99.

30. Kenji Kajiya, “Art Project and Japan: Examining the Architecture of Art,” in Hiroshima Art Project 2008 (Hiroshima: Hiroshima Art Project, 2009), 129–35 (accessible at http://www.art.hiroshima-cu.ac.jp/~kajiya/kajiya2008. artproject.e.pdf). See also Adrian Favell, “Echigo-Tsumari: The Fram Kitagawa Philosophy,” ARTiT ArtBlogs adrian’s blog, July 24, 2009, 01:32, http://www. art-it.asia/u/rhqiun/QXyh6VkHEgdvOMwJi9ce/ (accessed January 2, 2010).

31. Excerpt from “Streets of London,” written by Ralph McTell in 1969 and first released in 1974 in the United Kingdom, with Yoshitomo Nara’s translation as it appears in Nara Voice “Streets of London” from June 29, 2009, 144.

plates MUSIC songs by the Ramones and other punk bands that Nara first heard in
plates MUSIC songs by the Ramones and other punk bands that Nara first heard in

plates

MUSIC

songs by the Ramones and other punk bands that Nara first heard in the late 1970s shook him to the core. Nara’s resolve to live his life on his own terms and never let go of his independence shaped his motto to “never forget the beginner’s spirit.” at the root of this is the “do-it-yourself” spirit of punk culture. Many works from Nara’s earliest to most recent years contain direct references to his favorite musicians and/or song lyrics—testament to the fact that music has always been playing in his studio, in his mind, and often in his installation works. this element of music in his work also offers us associative clues that can be personalized according to our own memory of certain songs and bands. those who are new to the bands he cites may develop an interest in them, while those who are more familiar with them will experience their perspective broadening into new horizons through Nara’s works.

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Untitled (1, 2, 3, 4!), 2008 Colored pencil on paper

H. 16 x W. 12 in. (40.6 x 30.5 cm)

Collection of Mr. and Mrs. a ndrew N. Dodge

opposite page Drawing Board 2, 1986

Colored pencil and pen on paper

H. 23 5 8 x W. 31 1 2 in. (60 x 80 cm)

Collection of the artist

pencil and pen on paper H. 23 5 ⁄ 8 x W. 31 1 ⁄ 2
this page, left Barcly’s , 1991 Colored pencil and ink on paper H. 8 1

this page, left Barcly’s, 1991

Colored pencil and ink on paper

H. 8 1 16 x W. 4 7 8 in. (20.5 x 12.4 cm)

aomori Museum of art, 1915

this page, right Savoy, 1991

Colored pencil and ink on paper

H. 8 1 16 x W. 4 7 8 in. (20.5 x 12.4 cm)

aomori Museum of art, 1924

7 ⁄ 8 in. (20.5 x 12.4 cm) aomori Museum of art, 1924 Merry Christmas! ,
7 ⁄ 8 in. (20.5 x 12.4 cm) aomori Museum of art, 1924 Merry Christmas! ,

Merry Christmas!, 1992–2000 Ballpoint pen and colored pencil on notebook paper H. 8 3 4 x W. 10 5 8 in. (22.2 x 27 cm)

the Museum of Modern art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David teiger in honor of agnes Gund

this page, top One Ear and pencil, colored pencil, and ink on paper H. 5
this page, top One Ear and pencil, colored pencil, and ink on paper H. 5
this page, top One Ear and pencil, colored pencil, and ink on paper H. 5
this page, top One Ear and pencil, colored pencil, and ink on paper H. 5
this page, top One Ear and pencil, colored pencil, and ink on paper H. 5
this page, top One Ear and pencil, colored pencil, and ink on paper H. 5

this page, top One Ear and

pencil, colored pencil, and ink on paper

H. 5 x W. 9 in. (12.7 x 22.9 cm)

the Museum of Modern art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David teiger in honor of agnes Gund

, 1992–2000

this page, bottom Guitar Wolf, 1992–2000

Crayon, pen, and ink on graph paper

H. 6 1 4 x W. 5 7 8 in. (15.9 x 14.9 cm)

the Museum of Modern art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David teiger in honor of agnes Gund

opposite page, top left Untitled (Yellow Fish), 1992–2000

Colored pencil and felt-tip pen on paper

H. 7 x W. 8 1 4 in. (17.8 x 21 cm)

the Museum of Modern art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David teiger in honor of agnes Gund

opposite page, top right

Hey Hey We Are Chinkees!!, 1992–2000 Colored pencil on postcard

H. 5 1 2 x W. 3 3 4 in. (14 x 9.5 cm)

the Museum of Modern art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David teiger in honor of agnes Gund

opposite page, bottom left

Take Me to the Place, 1992–2000 Felt-tip pen on paper

H. 8 1 4 x W. 5 7 8 in. (21 x 14.9 cm)

the Museum of Modern art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David teiger in honor of agnes Gund

opposite page, bottom right Come on! Com’on!, 1992–2000 Felt-tip pen on graph paper

H. 8 1 4 x W. 5 7 8 in. (21 x 14.9 cm)

the Museum of Modern art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David teiger in honor of agnes Gund

this page, top

Love You’ve Gotta Love Something,

1992–2000

pencil on printed paper

H. 4 1 8 x W. 8 1 4 in. (10.5 x 21 cm)

the Museum of Modern art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David teiger in honor of agnes Gund

this page, bottom Stargirl, 1992–2000

Felt-tip pen, colored pencil, and pencil on graph paper

H. 11 5 8 x W. 8 1 4 in. (29.5 x 21 cm)

the Museum of Modern art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David teiger in honor of agnes Gund

opposite page, top left Papa Papa Papa, 1992–2000

Ballpoint pen and colored pencil on printed paper

H. 8 1 4 x W. 5 7 8 in. (21 x 14.9 cm)

the Museum of Modern art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David teiger in honor of agnes Gund

opposite page, top right

Guston Girls Smoke too Much, 1992–2000 Felt-tip pen and colored pencil on notebook paper

H. 6 x W. 4 1 2 in. (15.2 x 11.4 cm)

the Museum of Modern art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David teiger in honor of agnes Gund

opposite page, bottom left

Wanna Be Beethoven, 1992–2000 pencil and colored pencil on notebook paper

H. 6 x W. 4 3 8 in. (15.2 x 11.1 cm)

the Museum of Modern art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David teiger in honor of agnes Gund

opposite page, bottom right Hell Kitty Pupp Kin, 1992–2000

pencil, colored pencil, watercolor, and gouache on graph paper

H. 5 7 8 x W. 8 1 4 in. (14.9 x 21 cm)

the Museum of Modern art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David teiger in honor of agnes Gund

x 21 cm) the Museum of Modern art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David
x 21 cm) the Museum of Modern art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David
x 21 cm) the Museum of Modern art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David
x 21 cm) the Museum of Modern art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David
x 21 cm) the Museum of Modern art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David
x 21 cm) the Museum of Modern art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David

White Riot, 1995 acrylic on cotton H. 39 3 8 x W. 47 1 4 in. (100 x 120 cm)

aomori Museum of art, 2597

Riot , 1995 acrylic on cotton H. 39 3 ⁄ 8 x W. 47 1 ⁄

this page Cover for Yukio’s Band, 1995 Colored pencil on paper H. 11 11 16 x W. 8 3 16 in. (29.7 x 20.8 cm)

aomori Museum of art, 1922

opposite page So You Better Hold On, 1996 acrylic on canvas H. 47 1 4 x W. 63 in. (120 x 160 cm)

Collection of Melva Bucksbaum and Raymond learsy

acrylic on canvas H. 47 1 ⁄ 4 x W. 63 in. (120 x 160 cm)
acrylic on canvas H. 47 1 ⁄ 4 x W. 63 in. (120 x 160 cm)
this page C’mon! C’mon! , 1996 Colored pencil and marker on paper H. 8 1

this page C’mon! C’mon!, 1996

Colored pencil and marker on paper

H. 8 1 4 x W. 5 3 4 in. (21 x 14.7 cm)

aomori Museum of art, 1939

opposite page

It’s Better to Burn Out, 1996 acrylic on canvas

H. 21 1 3 x W. 15 3 4 in. (54.1 x 40 cm)

private collection

124

to Burn Out , 1996 acrylic on canvas H. 21 1 ⁄ 3 x W. 15
this page, left Stand By Me , 1997 Colored pencil on paper H. 11 1

this page, left Stand By Me, 1997 Colored pencil on paper H. 11 11 16 x W. 8 3 16 in. (29.7 x 20.8 cm)

aomori Museum of art, 1956

this page, right Stand By Me, 1997 Colored pencil on paper H. 11 11 16 x W. 8 3 16 in. (29.7 x 20.8 cm)

aomori Museum of art, 1945

3 ⁄ 16 in. (29.7 x 20.8 cm) aomori Museum of art, 1945 this page, left
3 ⁄ 16 in. (29.7 x 20.8 cm) aomori Museum of art, 1945 this page, left
3 ⁄ 16 in. (29.7 x 20.8 cm) aomori Museum of art, 1945 this page, left

this page, left Underground Cliché, 1997 Colored pencil on paper H. 11 11 16 x W. 8 3 16 in. (29.7 x 20.8 cm)

aomori Museum of art, 1968

this page, right Play It Loud!, 1997 Colored pencil on paper H. 11 11 16 x W. 8 3 16 in. (29.7 x 20.8 cm)

aomori Museum of art, 1950

Guitar Girl , 1997 acrylic on cotton H. 47 1 ⁄ 4 x W. 43

Guitar Girl, 1997 acrylic on cotton H. 47 1 4 x W. 43 5 16 in. (120 x 110 cm)

private collection

x W. 43 5 ⁄ 16 in. (120 x 110 cm) private collection Breathing in Then

Breathing in Then I Remember, 1997 Colored pencil on paper H. 11 11 16 x W. 8 3 16 in. (29.7 x 20.8 cm)

aomori Museum of art, 1956

Amuro Girl , 1997 Fiberglass, wood, resin, and lacquer H. 22 7 ⁄ 8 x

Amuro Girl, 1997 Fiberglass, wood, resin, and lacquer H. 22 7 8 x W. 20 1 2 x D. 13 3 8 in. (58 x 52 x 34 cm)

aomori Museum of art, 1843

3 ⁄ 8 in. (58 x 52 x 34 cm) aomori Museum of art, 1843 Puffy

Puffy Girl, 1997 Fiberglass, wood, resin, and lacquer H. 20 x W. 18 1 2 x D. 10 in. (50.8 x 47 x 25.4 cm)

aomori Museum of art, 1844

this page, top U-ki-yo-e , 1999 Oil on book page H. 13 x W. 16

this page, top U-ki-yo-e, 1999 Oil on book page H. 13 x W. 16 5 8 in. (33 x 42.2 cm)

Collection of eileen Harris Norton

this page, bottom U-ki-yo-e, 1999 Oil on book page H. 16 5 8 x W. 13 in. (42.4 x 33 cm)

Collection of eileen Harris Norton

W. 13 in. (42.4 x 33 cm) Collection of eileen Harris Norton this page, top U-ki-yo-e,
this page, top U-ki-yo-e, 1999 Oil on book page H. 16 5 ⁄ 8 x
this page, top
U-ki-yo-e, 1999
Oil on book page
H. 16 5 ⁄ 8 x W. 13 in. (42.4 x 33 cm)
Collection of eileen Harris Norton
this page, bottom
Untitled (Nobody’s Fool), 1998
Watercolor on paper
H. 13 3 ⁄4 x W. 10 1 ⁄8 in. (34.9 x 25.7 cm)
Collection of peter Norton
this page, left Screen Memory , 1992–2000 Felt-tip pen on postcard H. 5 7 ⁄

this page, left Screen Memory, 1992–2000

Felt-tip pen on postcard

H. 5 7 8 x W. 4 1 8 in. (14.9 x 10.5 cm)

the Museum of Modern art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David teiger in honor of agnes Gund

this page, right

Untitled (Drumming bunnies), 1992–2000 Felt-tip pen and colored pencil on notebook paper

H. 10 1 8 x W. 8 1 8 in. (27 x 20.6 cm)

the Museum of Modern art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David teiger in honor of agnes Gund

134

and promised gift of David teiger in honor of agnes Gund 134 this page, top Happy
and promised gift of David teiger in honor of agnes Gund 134 this page, top Happy
and promised gift of David teiger in honor of agnes Gund 134 this page, top Happy

this page, top

Happy Hour Shonen Knife, 1992–2000 Colored pencil and pencil on paper

H. 4 3 4 x W. 4 3 4 in. (12.1 x 12.1 cm)

the Museum of Modern art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David teiger in honor of agnes Gund

this page, bottom

Untitled (Pup with guitar), 1992–2000 Ballpoint pen, colored pencil, and gouache on notebook paper

H. 6 1 2 x W. 6 in. (16.5 x 15.2 cm)

the Museum of Modern art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David teiger in honor of agnes Gund

135

Hey Hey My My Rock’n Roll Never Die! , 1992–2000 Colored pencil and pencil on

Hey Hey My My Rock’n Roll Never Die!,

1992–2000

Colored pencil and pencil on printed paper H. 8 3 4 x W. 8 1 4 in. (22.2 x 21 cm)

the Museum of Modern art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David teiger in honor of agnes Gund

this page, top Over the Rainbow, 1992–2000

Colored pencil and ballpoint pen on graph paper

H. 4 1 2 x W. 5 1 4 in. (11.4 x 13.3 cm)

the Museum of Modern art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David teiger in honor of agnes Gund

this page, bottom left

Mike Ness Social Distortion, 1992–2000 pencil and colored pencil on notebook paper

H. 5 1 2 x W. 4 in. (14 x 10.2 cm)

the Museum of Modern art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David teiger in honor of agnes Gund

this page, bottom right

Untitled (Annika Ström invite), 1992–2000 Felt-tip pen on printed paper

H. 6 x W. 4 1 2 in. (15.2 x 11.4 cm)

the Museum of Modern art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David teiger in honor of agnes Gund

11.4 cm) the Museum of Modern art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David teiger
11.4 cm) the Museum of Modern art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David teiger
11.4 cm) the Museum of Modern art, New York, Fractional and promised gift of David teiger
this page Hellcat , 2000 acrylic and oil on canvas H. 20 x W. 16

this page

Hellcat, 2000

acrylic and oil on canvas

H. 20 x W. 16 in. (50.8 x 40.6 cm)

Collection of elizabeth Blair and Michael Kelter

opposite page

Winter Long, 1999 acrylic on canvas

H. 47 1 4 x W. 43 1 4 in. (120 x 110 cm)

Collection of Ms. Wang Wei

, 1999 acrylic on canvas H. 47 1 ⁄ 4 x W. 43 1 ⁄ 4
Dengeki Bop , 2000 acrylic on paper each, H. 11 3 ⁄ 4 x W.

Dengeki Bop, 2000 acrylic on paper each, H. 11 3 4 x W. 11 3 4 in. (30 x 30 cm)

Collection of Hiromichi Nakano

acrylic on paper each, H. 11 3 ⁄ 4 x W. 11 3 ⁄ 4 in.

Little Ramona, 2001 acrylic on cotton mounted on fiber reinforced plastics Diam. 70 3 4 in. (180 cm); D. 10 1 2 in. (26.7 cm)

Rubell Family Collection, Miami

142

plastics Diam. 70 3 ⁄ 4 in. (180 cm); D. 10 1 ⁄ 2 in. (26.7

143

Light My Fire, 2001 acrylic, fabric, and wood H. 74 x W. 29 x D. 43 in. (186.7 x 67 x 113 cm)

private collection

144

Light My Fire , 2001 acrylic, fabric, and wood H. 74 x W. 29 x D.
this page, left Untitled ( Who Snatched the Babies ), 2001–2002 Colored pencil and graphite

this page, left Untitled (Who Snatched the Babies),

2001–2002

Colored pencil and graphite on paper

H. 9 1 4 x W. 4 3 4 in. (23.5 x 12.1 cm)

Courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York

this page, right Untitled (Who Snatched the Babies),

2001–2002

Colored pencil and graphite on paper

H. 9 x W. 4 in. (22.9 x 10.2 cm)

Courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York

146

size changed - larger

Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York 146 size changed - larger this page, top Untitled ( Who
Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York 146 size changed - larger this page, top Untitled ( Who
Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York 146 size changed - larger this page, top Untitled ( Who

this page, top Untitled (Who Snatched the Babies),

2001–2002

Colored pencil on paper H. 7 1 2 x W. 8 1 2 in. (19.1 x 21.6 cm)

Courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York

this page, bottom Untitled (Who Snatched the Babies),

2001–2002

Colored pencil on paper H. 11 3 4 x W. 8 1 4 in. (29.9 x 21 cm)

Courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York

147

this page, top Marshall , 2003 Colored pencil on paper H. 8 1 ⁄ 4

this page, top Marshall, 2003

Colored pencil on paper

H. 8 1 4 x W. 11 11 16 in. (21 x 29.7 cm)

private collection

this page, bottom Radio Radio, 2003

Colored pencil on paper

H. 9 7 8 x W. 13 11 16 in. (25 x 34.8 cm)

private collection

148

1 1 ⁄ 16 in. (25 x 34.8 cm) private collection 148 this page, top Blitz
1 1 ⁄ 16 in. (25 x 34.8 cm) private collection 148 this page, top Blitz
1 1 ⁄ 16 in. (25 x 34.8 cm) private collection 148 this page, top Blitz

this page, top Blitz Krieg Bop, 2003

Colored pencil on paper

H. 4 11 16 x W. 9 1 8 in. (11.9 x 23.1 cm)

Collection of the artist

this page, bottom Rusty Guitar, 2003

Colored pencil on paper

H. 9 1 4 x W. 4 11 16 in. (23.5 x 11.9 cm)

Collection of emiko shimizu

149

Nobody’s Fool , 2003 Colored pencil on paper H. 17 1 ⁄ 8 x W.

Nobody’s Fool, 2003 Colored pencil on paper H. 17 1 8 x W. 12 in. (43.5 x 30.5 cm)

private collection

150

hi-res replaced

Untitled (Nobody’s Fool), 2005 Colored pencil on paper H. 26 3 4 x W. 9 7 16 in. (68 x 24 cm)

Galerie Zink München, Berlin

), 2005 Colored pencil on paper H. 26 3 ⁄ 4 x W. 9 7 ⁄

151

Banging the Drum , 2007 Billboard painting, acrylic on wood H. 120 3 ⁄ 8

Banging the Drum, 2007 Billboard painting, acrylic on wood H. 120 3 8 x W. 120 3 8 x D. 2 3 4 in. (260 x 260 x 7 cm)

private collection, courtesy CaC Málaga

153

Untitled (Let’s Rock), 2008 Colored pencil on paper H. 16 3 4 x W. 11 3 4 in. (42.6 x 29.9 cm)

Courtesy of Blum & poe, los angeles

154

pencil on paper H. 16 3 ⁄ 4 x W. 11 3 ⁄ 4 in. (42.6

156

156 hi-res replaced this page Untitled ( 1, 2, 3, 4 Man ), 2008 Colored pencil

hi-res replaced

156 hi-res replaced this page Untitled ( 1, 2, 3, 4 Man ), 2008 Colored pencil

this page Untitled (1, 2, 3, 4 Man), 2008 Colored pencil on paper H. 14 1 2 x W. 9 in. (36.8 x 22.9 cm)

Collection of erica Gervais

opposite page Untitled (Green Rocker), 2008 Colored pencil on paper H. 13 x W. 9 in. (33 x 22.9 cm)

Courtesy of Blum & poe, los angeles

157

this page Untitled ( Cheers for You! ), 2008 Colored pencil on paper H. 12

this page Untitled (Cheers for You!), 2008 Colored pencil on paper H. 12 x W. 9 in. (30.5 x 22.9 cm)

Courtesy of Blum & poe, los angeles

158

opposite page Untitled (Girl with Guitar), 2008 acrylic on wood panel H. 91 x W. 73 1 2 x D. 5 in. (231.1 x 186.7 x 12.7 cm)

Courtesy of Blum & poe, los angeles

on wood panel H. 91 x W. 73 1 ⁄ 2 x D. 5 in. (231.1

159

Untitled ( Kill Kill Kill the P ), 2008 Colored pencil on paper H. 13

Untitled (Kill Kill Kill the P), 2008 Colored pencil on paper H. 13 3 4 x W. 11 1 2 in. (34.9 x 29.2 cm)

Courtesy of the artist and Blum & poe, los angeles

160

Courtesy of the artist and Blum & poe, los angeles 160 Untitled ( Hey! Ho! Let’s

Untitled (Hey! Ho! Let’s Go!), 2008 Colored pencil on paper H. 17 1 2 x W. 13 1 4 in. (44.5 x 33.7 cm)

Courtesy of Blum & poe, los angeles

161