“The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg” will debut Tuesday at the Streeterville art museum. The exhibit includes more than 50 of Murakami’s works, ranging from some of his earliest pieces to never-before-seen paintings.
Murakami has one of the most familiar aesthetics in today’s modern art world, drawing inspiration from Japanese manga comics and featuring a wide array of colorful characters. The “super flat” expression he coined “flattens out” the distinction between high and low art, making his work accessible to all, said Michael Darling, the museum’s chief curator. Murakami employs over 100 assistants who help with this paintings, one of which stretches more than 300 feet long. The exhibit’s namesake installation, “The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg,” stretches 114 feet and takes up an entire room.
“An octopus in distress can chew off a damaged leg to ensure survival, knowing that a new one will grow in its place,” the museum said in a statement. “Similarly, Murakami often feeds off his own prior imagery, or that of Japanese history, in order for new work to emerge.”
“There are very few painters working today that can anywhere close to the scale of the works that he’s making,” Darling said. A pop-up truck run by Complex will sell Murakami merchandise outside the museum during the exhibit’s run, which lasts through Sept. 24.