Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Museum of Contemporary Art: Murakami

I've lived in Chicago for almost seven years, and this past weekend I went to the Museum of Contemporary Art for the first time! My fiance isn't huge on the concept of "contemporary art," and I'm not passionate about it, so it hasn't been high on our list of things to see, but their current Murakami exhibit beckoned us to finally check a look.
One of the things about contemporary art is it's always changing (to be contemporary, ya know), so none of the exhibitions at the MCA are permanent. Right now (and until September 24), Murakami is the anchor exhibit, taking up most of the top floor, but smaller galleries on the lower floors were...interesting as well.

If I'm being honest, it was difficult to take some of the pieces seriously in these smaller galleries. At times, I literally looked around me to see if we were all being punk'd. While the spaces, how they were arranged, and the presentation of the art were all seamless and effective, I wasn't as immersed in the emotion or talent of the art as I have been at other museums. I mean, there was literally a collection of contact lenses in one of the galleries. This is just a clay bowl with an imprint of a debit card in it. It felt too come mierda (as a Puerto Rican would say) to have a reaction other than "Hmm." I don't doubt that what's in the museum is art, but it's more commentary and statement than art for art's sake.

Takashi Murakami though, didn't disappoint. Neither Jesus nor I knew who he was before seeing his works at the museum, other than that he is Japanese and has collaborated with Kanye West. The entire gallery read like a visual autobiography, tracing Murakami's artistic journey to the creator he is today. I'm always a sucker for diverse portfolios and seeing how an artist (of any kind) evolves. Moods and phases are obvious in retrospect and you can further appreciate recent works knowing where they came from. Murakami is a contemporary artist, yes, but his influences reach deep into Japanese history. Add that to his own personal history, and all those layers add up to a wonderful viewing experience.

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