Murakami animation studio coming to L.A.
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Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, whose giant Buddha, bug-eyed monsters and magical mushrooms packed in huge crowds last year at the Museum of Contemporary Art, is putting down roots in Los Angeles. A multifaceted artist who embraces painting and sculpture, film and mass-produced goods as part of a single enterprise, he is planning to open an animation studio here next summer.
Often called Japan’s Andy Warhol and headquartered in Tokyo, Murakami already has a studio in New York. But he has decided that Hollywood is the place to expand his filmmaking capabilities. The new studio will operate under the umbrella of Kaikai Kiki, his production and artist-management company.
‘Animation and film have always been among my greatest influences, ever since I first saw ‘Star Wars’ and Hayao Miyazaki’s films,’ Murakami said in a statement. ‘This studio represents a great step in the evolution of Kaikai Kiki and gives me a closer proximity to the community of artists with whom I hope to collaborate as I continue my explorations of animated and live-action film.’
The company has leased a building on North Highland Avenue, to be adapted to the studio’s needs. With 6,220 square feet of space on the first floor and 2,760 square feet on the second level, the facility is expected to accommodate about 30 employees, said Daniel Rappaport of Management 360, Kaikai Kiki’s talent management firm in Los Angeles.
The studio’s first project will be a feature-length animated film based on ‘Planting the Seeds,’ the shorts that premiered at Murakami’s mid-career retrospective at MOCA, Rappaport said. It also created the Kanye West video for ‘Good Morning.’ The shorts also appeared last spring at the Brooklyn Museum’s version of the exhibition and, more recently, at the 2008 CineVegas Film Festival in Las Vegas. The digitally animated works feature Kaikai and Kiki, the company’s cartoon-character namesakes, traveling the world in a spaceship and learning to grow watermelons with the help of fertilizer, or ‘poop’ as they gleefully call it.
-- Suzanne Muchnic
Stills from Kaikai Kiki Animation Episode 1, “Planting the Seeds”
©2007 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
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