Tuesday, April 22, 2008


The award for most disappointing, revoltingly consumerist exhibit of the year goes to Takashi Murakami at the Brooklyn Museum for "© MURAKAMI."

Now, now, before you get your panties in a twist, let me explain myself. I know pop art is supposed to be consumerist. I know it's supposed to stroke the monolith of capitalism. I know Warhol, I know, I know, I know. But Murakami has taken it another step by designing handbags for Louis Vuitton and then SELLING THEM INSIDE THE EXHIBIT. I repeat: One can go to view ninety works by Murakami and then walk out of the exhibit with a handbag that costs about a grand.

You know I love fashion. I love Marc! And hey, I could maybe even love Murakami. But, and correct me if I'm wrong here, isn't the point of pop art to use elements of popular culture against themselves to make a comment about said pop culture? No? Yes? I thought so. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it doesn't matter anymore. But I'll tell you what the Murakami exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum is for. It's not about art, it's about making a buck.

As if the Louis Vuitton handbags weren't enough, the gift shop embedded at the end of the exhibit was enough to make me (and my poor mom who I subjected to this bullshit) hurl. My younger brother studies Japanese, and my mom and I thought he might like something from the gift shop. A shirt. A key-chain. A postcard. Something. Well, the postcards cost $2.75 EACH. A t-shirt on starched white cotton was FORTY TWO BUCKS, and one of these little plush toys (that every single Park Slope mother was purchasing in volumes from her droves of offspring) costs a clean FORTY-NINE SMACKERS.

What makes me the angriest about all this is the fact that this exhibit was SWARMED. Mom and I had to wait thirty minutes to get into the museum. The gift shop was cleaned out, and yes, I even saw a woman buy a purse. In the exhibit. I want to emphasize that the Vuitton shop (complete with shop boys in crisp white linens--at one point I said, "what the hell, does that white boy practice Santaria?" And my mom replied, "no, I think he works in the Louis Vuitton shop.") was inside the exhibit. Not at the end, or in another part of the museum, but IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ART EXHIBIT. Why?! So one can buy the fucking purse and then walk through the exhibit and look at the paintings and say, "hey! my purse kind of looks like that painting!" ?!?

Granted, I'm not a big fan of Murakami's work to begin with. I think it's repetitive, derivative, and stupid. There were highlights, like this piece:

Or this one:

But, really?

Thankfully, Judy Chicago's "The Dinner Party," is part of the Brooklyn Museum's permanent, fantastic wing of Feminist Art, so the visit was redeemed. But I couldn't get the taste of Murakami out of my mouth. I still can't. I think there's something very evil about all this. I'd like to hear a compelling argument about his work, if there is one.

Sorry, Murakami, but you're just not my bag!


If you want to vom, or you're way into the cultural implications of bullshit and derivative pop art, © MURAKAMI runs until July 13th, at the Brooklyn Museum.


The Year in Pictures said...

I understand your annoyance at the show, but isn't the "conceptual" point (and to some extent Murakami's critique) that consumerism has gone so far we can now move it inside the show. And what's the difference anyway between the gift shop and the exhibit?

Paul Pincus said...

i'm torn (as usual)...i love a spectacle and the show in l.a. was fun...but you do have a point!...your views have been expressed to me by quite a few friends and colleagues...so i guess it's just me and the park slope mothers...yikes ; )

ps david byrne had a interesting take on the murakami exhibit on his blog.

pps it's nice to know another patrick o'dell enthusiast...did you manage to catch his show at fuse?

Snobber said...

james: i know that's the conceptual point, but i still want it to be a concept! murakami's smart: he manages to say "consumerism" is BS, and then at the same time he's raking in the dough! i don't like it.

paul: it certainly is a spectacle, that's for sure. and i can understand why people like it . . . david byrne does put it well: the lines between luxury and art are seamless here.

ps- i didn't! i wanted to go, but i think i was sick . . . people make fun of me for listing him in my blogroll.

Mary-Laure said...

I'm not a fan either, so I'm glad to feel less lonely...

jen said...

man, i left the most brilliant and hilaaarious comment on this post yesterday, and it got lost in the void. so you'll just have to imagine how good it was.

Snobber said...

ML: yes! no problem.

Jen: WTF? what did it say!

jen said...

i don't know if i can reconstruct it:
something about being conflicted about murakami.
something about my post in which i gave him a good lashing.
something about the shiny cases in the middle of the murakami show that maybe hit too close to home...then something about an inner dialogue that goes, "now, now, don't hurt your little head thinking about all that art nonsense, put a pretty scarf on it instead."
not so funny anymore, is it?

Jet Lag said...

Bag is great,but i don't like other part of his work ^^