Takashi Murakami may not have been the first artist to work with a brand, but he was certainly the first to integrate a luxury boutique into a museum exhibition. Looking back on that event ten years later—a decade in which he has only become more successful within the art world and more promiscuous beyond it—he reflects on the role that commercial collaborations can have within a wider artistic practice.
When you incorporated an LV store into your LA MOCA exhibition in 2007, you not only created controversy, but arguably pushed art further into the “commercial” part of commercial collaborations than any artist before you. Can you reflect on this moment now?
Among all of the collaborations between artists and brands at that time, Marc Jacobs’s attempts at Louis Vuitton were the bravest. I feel lucky that he appreciated me. The project at the museum was about bringing the conversation into the art world, so it wouldn’t only be confined to the fashion scene. When the products mostly sold out there were hysterics in the art scene. I feel lucky to have been able to realize the project then. Now these collaborations are commonplace.
When you look out on the crowded field of artist-brand collaborations today, what do you think of this trend you helped popularize? Has it created more freedom and opportunities for artists?
I think Marc Jacobs should be held in higher esteem in the art world. As for me, I have only been brought into this confusing space because of him.
Is the brand collaboration a medium like animation or painting? If so what is its special role alongside these media?
It’s a very happy thing to meet and work alongside the creatives of any unknown field.
Among the brands you’ve worked with (LV, Vans, Shu Uemura, Billionaire Boys Club) are there any that you find more or less open to or helpful for art? How have these collaborations impacted your practice as an artist?
All of these brands have played very proactive and effective roles, and it has been helpful to have channels of communication with people in the fashion world.