Artist Takashi Murakami is arguably the biggest Japanese contemporary artist in the world. In less than two decades he’s established a massive footprint in the global art scene. His latest show of new work at the Gagosian Gallery in New York is titled “In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow” and it marks a slight axis shift in the artist’s work.
Compared to much of the work he created in the late 1990s and early 2000s, “In the Land …” has less of the pristine, clinical and fantastical perfectionism of the sci-fi anime-inspired sculptures and kawaii characters of the artist’s “super flat”period. I
nstead Murakami’s new work is more complex and draws on more obvious, formal strands of Japanese classical arts and traditional symbolism. And it’s messy within bounds. It feels like barely contained seething chaos. It’s way more massive, more epic in scale. It’s stunning.
This framed image of pop superstar Lady Gaga pictured below is one of many such celebrity portraits by the accomplished photographer Martin Schoeller currently on view at the Hasted Kraeutler gallery in New York. (To the left of Gaga is portrait of artist Jeff Koons and on her right is one of actor-comedian Zach Galifinakis.)
We stopped by the recently minted New York City outpost of Intelligentsia Coffee in Chelsea, an NYC neighborhood that is home to the city’s largest art galleries and, as such, a global art-world hub. The new Intellgentsia is actually two distinct cafes: a smart, beautifully designed cafe in the lobby of the High Line Hotel, and a mobile espresso bar set up in a vintage Citroen truck parked in the garden courtyard in front of the hotel.The coffee is great, and the drinks menu includes the “Angeleno,” a agave-sweetened iced coffee based on a recipe created in Los Angeles as an alternative to the ubiquitous Starbucks frappuccinos. Perfect for summer. If you’re not an espresso freak, a visit is worth it if only to appreciate the decor and relax in the wonderfully-designed space.
Here are more of those “Where is My Passport?” sidewalk street art pieces that have been appearing all over New York City this year. Each of these painted questions is accompanied by a stencil image of controversial Chinese artist and social activist Ai Wei Wei. This one is in the Chelsea art gallery district, in front of the entrance to the famous Commes des Garcons concept store.
Here’s another one of those street art wheat-paste-ups of actress and singer Selena Gomez. There are a bunch of variations on the Gomez theme. This one has the Spanish words “Sin Fronteras” (English translation: “without limits”).
The front of the pioneering Commes des Garcons concept store in New York’s Chelsea art-gallery district has become a mini-mecca for street art in recent years. Layer upon layer of wheat-pastes posters, stencils, graffiti, spray-can art, paint and stickers by various artists, graff writers, designers and creators cover the brick exterior and sidewalks on either side of the shop’s aluminum tunnel-like entrance on W. 22nd Street. The street art-bombed frontage is a beautiful contrast to the minimalist-futurist polish of the store’s architectural design, which looks as cool now as it did when it opened in 1999 on the site of the Heavenly Body Works auto-body shop (the sign is still there).
The Empire State Building in New York City as seen at twilight on a recent evening from the rooftop of an artists’ studio in Chelsea. We love that moment when the lights first come on atop this most iconic of New York skyscrapers, especially when the lights are just plain white and it’s still kind of bright outside. (We could live without the building’s other array of garish symbolic and seasonal colors.)