Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg is the first major retrospective of Takashi Murakami’s paintings to be shown in Canada. Spanning three decades of the artist’s career—from his monumental paintings of the 1980s to new, never-before-seen works—this critical survey reveals the consistent themes and profound engagement with history that have guided the artist’s practice. More than fifty paintings and sculptures in the exhibition highlight a dedication to craftsmanship and uninhibited imagination mining a diverse field of conceptual and cultural references extending from folklore to art history and popular culture.
The exhibition takes its title “The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg” from an ancient Japanese parable, tako ga jibun no ashi wo kurau. It refers to a situation in which one survives for the time being by feeding on or sacrificing oneself. The octopus eats its own leg to survive, but does so knowing the tentacle will regenerate. The phrase symbolises the cyclical nature of Murakami’s practice and the creative output of the Kaikai KiKi studio. Murakami is the octopus: he consumes history, culture and even his own oeuvre and fame to persevere as an artist.
Organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and curated by Michael Darling, James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator
Brian and Andrea Hill
TAKASHI MURAKAMI: THE OCTOPUS EATS ITS OWN LEG
Published by Skira Rizzoli Publications, Inc., 2017
Softcover, 286 pages
Illustrations: 250 colour
Editor: Michael Darling
Contributors: Madeleine Grynsztejn, Michael Dylan Foster, Chelsea Foxwell, Reuben Keehan, Akira Mizuta Lippit and Nobuo Tsuji
This landmark publication accompanies a major retrospective exhibition of Takashi Murakami’s paintings. Although other volumes on Murakami in English address the crossover between his fine art and commercial output, this book presents the first serious consideration of his work as a painter.