Superflat is a contemporary art movement which was created by artist Takashi Murakami in 2001. The movement includes artists and designers who make work which uses flatness as a core part of the artwork. Superflat artists reference a broad range of influences in their work, including subjects from Japanese socio-political history and contemporary Japanese art and design. The movement was created by artist Takashi Murakami as a way to describe ideas in his own process but then became a way to link ideas in other artist’s work. Murakami brought these themes together in the exhibition ‘Superflat’, which he curated at MoCA, California, USA in 2001.
The Superflat style looks similar to advertising or commercial art. It can be big, bold and bright and feature cartoon like characters or graphic motifs. Artists use visual flatness to critique consumer culture. In Superflat, flatness becomes a parody of the visual style of advertising, graphic design and pop culture. They use the same graphic style but without the fluffy, glossed over marketing. Instead, socially taboo or darker subjects are used to explore themes outside of the mainstream narrative and so undermine the established visual language. Flatness in Superflat also references the traditions of Japanese art and design before modern consumer culture.
Much of the work in Superflat is influenced by the style and subject matter of manga, anime and Japanese popular culture. Many of the artists had previously worked in the commercial art sector. After an economic downturn in Japan during the 1990’s, artists became more suspicious of the dominant language of visual advertising and communication. They took the style of this language and used it to blur the line between ‘high’ and ‘low culture’ and explore new themes of identity.
Superflat has had a significant impact on contemporary culture and has influenced several international groups and artists. The artists featured in the 2001, Superflat exhibition included Takashi Murakami, Yoshitomo Nara, Chiho Aoshima, Yoshinori Kanada, Henmaru Machino, Koji Morimoto, Katsushige Nakahashi, Shigeyoshi Ohi, Masafumi Sanai, Chikashi Suzuki, Aya Takano, Kentaro Takekuma and Hitoshi Tomizawa, Bome, Enlightenment (Hiro Sugiyama), groovisions, SLEEP, and 20471120.
To find out more please follow the links below;
Top of page image credit: 727×777 by Takashi Murakami, 2016 Lithograph 65.7 × 98 cm ©Takashi Murakam