Saturday, January 21, 2012

Open Your Hands Wide, Embrace Happiness!

I wouldn't call myself a fan of anime, but I do like Takashi Murakami's smiling flowers which seem vaguely reminiscent of Japanese cartoons. They do puzzle me a little bit, though. That title, "Open Your Hands Wide, Embrace Happiness!" sounds like a 1970's self-help book. These flowers have their origins in drawings Murakami made for prep school students learning how to draw flowers. I find myself searching warily for signs of irony, but I don't see any, just endlessly-repeated smiling flowers! Are they exultant, or are they mocking?

Sotheby's is selling this artwork in London on February 15. Their auction listing includes two figures with flowers, one traditional (by Ogata Korin) and one contemporary (by Jeff Koons), that have some bearing on the flowers that are such an essential part of Murakami's work. I personally think this work is better compared with the singing flowers in Walt Disney's "Alice in Wonderland" (1951).
Takashi Murakami
Open Your Hands Wide, Embrace Happiness!

February 15, 2012:  Sold for $825,250 including buyer's premium.

Figure 1, Ogata Korin, Irises, c. 1700, Nezu Museum, Japan

Figure 2, Jeff Koons, Large Vase of Flowers, 1991

The Garden of Live Flowers from Walt Disney's "Alice in Wonderland" (1951)

Sir John Tenniel, "Alice in the Garden of Live Flowers," from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1871.

Note:  Sir John Tenniel was last mentioned in my blog post on A Mad Tea Party, for some reason one of my most popular posts ever. I show how five different illustrators have handled Lewis Carroll's "A Mad Tea Party." Catch it here.

Has it really been four weeks since my last Disney post? What was I thinking? If you missed it, you can read it  here.


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