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Often compared to Andy Warhol, Takashi Murakami is Japan's most prolific and commercially successful contemporary artist.
Having started his artistic career studying Nihonga, a 19th century painting form, Murakami rejected the notion of an artistic divide between high and low culture, drawing inspiration from Japanese anime cartoons and Manga comics and grounding his work in "otaku," or "nerd," culture.
In 2000, Murakami founded the "Superflat" movement, a post-modern response to the levelling of Japanese society, both in economic and culture terms, and the aesthetics of mass-produced entertainment conveyed via LCD screens.
He has also embraced the commercial side of art, blurring the boundaries between the gallery and the showroom, and the aesthete and the consumer, by branding his artwork -- particularly his ubiquitous trademark "Mr. DOB" -- on everything from mouse mats to $5,000 Louis Vuitton handbags.
Murakami describes his work as a "fusion of art and computing," using Adobe Illustrator and cutting and pasting from archives of previous works to create his stylised and often garishly sexualised cartoon images and sculptures.
The process reaches its logical conclusion with Murakami's Kaikai Kiki factory, an art-making corporation complete with a staff of accountants and administrators, computerized timecards, production targets and training manuals and sales exceeding $300 million.