Arts and CultureNewsSF Bay Area

Takashi Murakami Brings his Monsters to SF

Updated: Sep 15, 2023 12:34
The Bay's best newsletter for underground events & news


Portrait of the artist by Alex Maeland

Murakami is perhaps Japan’s most famous artist, he blends traditional Japanese themes and techniques with contemporary visions, colors, and culture.  His work spans fashion, consumer products, and curation, along with film and entertainment. There is a touch of Warhol’s pop, Goya’s nightmares, Hokusai’s tradition, and Mizuki’s manga in his massive new works.  Hundreds of pieces, many made just for this new show.

His exhibit at the Asian Art Museum, complete with sculptures, wall-spanning paintings, and incredibly immersive rooms covered floor-to-ceiling with art, is at times breathtaking.

Bacon [colon] Scream, 2019, by Takashi Murakami (Japanese, b. 1962). Acrylic, gold, and platinum leaf on canvas mounted on aluminum frame. Courtesy of the artist and Perrotin. © 2019 Takashi Murakami_Kaikai Kiki Co., L

Murakami has resurrected monsters from ancient Japan and re-imagined them in contemporary scenarios.  Dozens of idols, gods, and demons as sculptures or framed in wall-sized epics that can span an entire gallery wall, or nearly sit in the palm of your hand.

Red Demon and Blue Demon with 48 Arhats, 2013, by Takashi Murakami (Japanese, b. 1962). Acrylic and gold leaf and platinum leaf on canvas mounted on board. Courtesy of the artist and The Heller Group. Photo © Phillips

The monsters that Goya painted have traumatized me for life. At the same time, I have been fascinated by the specters in Shigeru Mizuki’s manga and the grotesqueness of the monsters in Ultraman, the TV sci-fi series. When I submerge myself in my own primordial feeling and draw spontaneously, what springs forth effortlessly are images of monsters.” – Takashi Murakami

Here is what it looks like walking around just a small bits of the solo exhibit:


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Broke-Ass Stuart (@brokeassstuart)

Murakami’s new colossal painting called, “Judgement Day” is a standout masterpiece of “East meets West”.  Centered around the King of Hell, conflicts rage and swirl, traditions clash, techniques blend, and colors collide, almost like a rococo-inspired epic was made in a modern Japanese temple.

Takashi Murakami: Unfamiliar People — Swelling of Monsterized Human Ego showcases more than 75 works — including a dozen never-before exhibited ones — and delivers Murakami’s signature combination of fun, spectacle, and playful social commentary in his first-ever solo exhibition in the Bay Area

Murakami is unafraid to play with strict tradition, and reforge it.

727, 1996, by Takashi Murakami (Japanese, b. 1962). Acrylic on canvas mounted on board. The Museum of Modern Art, Gift of David Teiger, 251.2003.a–c. © 1996 Takashi Murakami_Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved

During the isolation of COVID/shelter in place, Murakami began painting people through the lens of digital mediums like social media, watching people live through Instagram, and defining themselves through superficial imagery, which gave them swelled egos and distorted perspectives…becoming less and less human.

Unfamiliar People, 2020–2022, by Takashi Murakami (Japanese, b. 1962). Acrylic on canvas mounted on aluminum frame. Courtesy of the artist and Perrotin. © 2020–2022 Takashi Murakami_Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Res

There is so much to see in this new exhibit, that must be seen at scale, and in person.  The show is curated by Japanese Art expert Laura W. Allen, who also edited a book with contributions from Hiroko Ikegami and Masako Shiba centered around this new exhibit.   This experience is wonderfully expansive, intricate, and reflective of this master’s work.  Go see it.


Takashi Murakami: Unfamiliar People — Swelling of Monsterized Human Ego

Can be seen SEP 15, 2023 – FEB 12, 2024
@ The Asain Art Museum, San Francisco Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang Pavilion

Tickets here

Broke-Ass Stuart works because of reader support. Join us now.

Howdy! My name is Katy Atchison and I'm an Associate Editor for Broke-Ass Stuart.

I want to take the time to say thank you for supporting independent news media by reading Supporting independent news sources like Broke-Ass Stuart is vital to supporting our community because it amplifies the voices of a wide variety of diverse opinions. You also help support small businesses and local artists by sharing stories from Broke-Ass Stuart.

Because you're one of our supporters, I wanted to send over a pro-tip.

Our bi-weekly newsletter is a great way to get round ups of Broke-Ass Stuart stories, learn about new businesses in The Bay Area, find out about fun local events and be first in line for giveaways.

If you’d like to get our newsletter, signup right here, it takes 5 seconds.

Previous post

The "Avg. Couples" from Bay Area Cities According to Ai

Next post

Here's A Love Letter to Secret Garden's Decadent Dishes

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

I'm the managing editor and co-owner of this little expiriment. I enjoy covering Bay Area News as well as writing about Arts, Culture & Nightlife.

If you're a writer, artist, or performer who would like to get your work out there, or if you've got great things to promote, we've got 160k followers and really fun ways to reach them. We love making things with other Bay creatives, for our partners, and our community. Don't be shy.
alex at
IG: @alexmaksf