Superflat is a postmodern art movement, founded by the artist Takashi Murakami, which is influenced by manga and anime. It is also the name of a 2001 art exhibition, curated by Murakami, that toured West Hollywood, Minneapolis and Seattle.
"Superflat" is used by Murakami to refer to various flattened forms in Japanese graphic art, animation, pop culture and fine arts, as well as the "shallow emptiness of Japanese consumer culture." A self-proclaimed art movement, it was a successful piece of niche marketing, a branded art phenomenon designed for Western audiences. Superflat has been embraced by American artists, who have created a hybrid called “SoFlo Superflat”.
"Superflat” Artists include Chiho Aoshima, Mahomi Kunikata, Sayuri Michima, Yoshitomo Nara, Aya Takano and Takashi Murakami. In addition, some animators within anime and some manga artist have had their past and present work exhibited in Superflat exhibitions, especially Koji Morimoto, and the work of Hitoshi Tomizawa, author of Alien 9 and Milk Closet.
Murakami defines Superflat in broad terms, so the subject matter is very diverse. Some works explore the consumerism and sexual fetishism that is prevalent in post-war Japanese culture. This often includes lolicon art, which is parodied by works such as those by Henmaru Machino. These works are an exploration of otaku sexuality through grotesque and/or distorted images. Other works are more concerned with a fear of growing up. For example, Yoshitomo Nara’s work often features playful graffiti on old Japanese ukiyo-e executed in a childish manner. And some works focus on the structure and underlying desires that comprise otaku and overall post-war Japanese culture. Murakami is influenced by directors such as Hideaki Anno.
A subversive look at otakuism is not a defining factor of Kaikai Kiki's galleries; Bome, one of the most important artists involved with the very first Superflat exhibition, is a famous otaku figure sculptor and his work based on existing bishoujo anime characters has been showcased in multiple galleries including a solo exhibition in the Kaikai Kiki Gallery. The artist Mr. is a self-described lolicon and views his artwork to be not a cultural commentary but a portrayal of his own personal fantasies.
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- Murakami, Takashi, ed. (2001). Superflat. Last Gasp. ISBN 4-944079-20-6.
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- Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd.—Takashi Murakami’s official site featuring Superflat artists
- Superflat Japanese postmodernity by Hiroki Azuma - on blog.emilkerie.com
- Superflat Japanese Postmodernity (Archived) — essay by Hiroki Azuma.
- Plumbing the Depths of Superflatness
- Inspired works from Superflat
- Overthinking Superflat