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Miss ko², Executed in 1997 – Takashi Murakami
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Takashi Murakami\nMiss ko²\nExecuted in 1997\n Oil paint, acrylic, synthetic resin, fiberglass, and iron.\n72 x 25 x 32 1/2 in. (182.9 x 63.5 x 82.6 cm).\nSigned ‘TAKASHI’ and inscribed with the names of his assistants who contributed to the execution of the work (inside the torso).  This work is from an edition of 3 plus 1 AP.
US
NY, US
US

year

Executed in 1997

notes

Takashi Murakami, Miss ko2 Miss ko2 is the first large-scale sculpture Murakami ever made of a character inspired by the fantasy world of otaku, the obsessive Japanese subculture of anime, manga and video games. It immediately preceded his other celebrated sculptures of this kind, most notably Hiropon and My Lonesome Cowboy. The celebration of otaku is a major theme in Murakami’s work. The present statue is the last of the three versions in the edition of the full-scale sculpture, and Murakami painted it with special care. The lush detailing of the paint intensifies both the hyper-sexuality and the emphatic artificiality of the sculpture, a startling combination of qualities. The shading of the fabric of her shirt makes the bulge of the breasts and the fullness of the nipples all the more pronounced — they threaten to push through her bodice. The rosy glow of the skin has an unnatural vibrancy and saturation, increasing the impression that she is humanoid, not human. The word “ko” in Japanese can mean child, young woman or young geisha, and it is sometimes associated with a restaurant server. Murakami certainly had an idea of this kind in mind, for he based the clothing in his sculpture on the uniform of the waitresses at the Anna Miller restaurant chain in Tokyo, a popular hangout in the otaku scene. The Japanese chain is famous for its large-breasted waitresses, and their skimpy costumes; it is often compared to the Hooters chain in America. In Tokyo in the 1980s there was a trend for up-skirt fetish cafés, where the patrons hoped to get a glimpse of the waitresses’ panties; this fad continues at Anna Miller’s. No doubt, Murakami had this fetish in mind when making his sculpture: indeed, Miss ko2’s panties, peeking out from under her skirt, reveal both the swell of her mons and the crevice between her buttocks. The Anna Miller uniform is extremely popular in cosplay (costumed role playing) (fig 1), and also in other creations of otaku culture, including anime, manga and video games (fig 2). One recent visitor to the restaurant commented, “Someday a few centuries from now, the Anna Miller’s restaurant uniform will be seen as the geisha outfit of the late 20th century, where waitresses serve you breakfast with a flip of the skirt and a smile” (Geoff Tebetts; see Patrickmacias.blogs.com/er/2005/06/_sempai_waitres.html). Miss ko2 is an outstanding example of the Japanese concept of “moe”, a word that literally means “blossoming or sprouting like a flower from a bud,” but which now is generally used to mean an extreme form of cuteness. As Patrick Macias, editor-in-chief of Otaku USA magazine explains, “You can get moe from babies or small animals and you most definitely get it from a pretty woman in a maid’s costume who draws a bunny rabbit in ketchup on your eggs” (quoted in David Hochman, “Service with a Wink to a Japanese Fad,” New York Times, June 25, 2008). In Miss ko2,moe has a Lolita-like charge, bringing together an impossible combination of prepubescent innocence and rampant voluptuousness. Murakami’s sculpture also seems to exemplify the ancient Japanese tradition of the ideal woman as a kind of doll or puppet. As Ian Buruma has noted, “Japanese love of nature does not extend to nature in the raw, for which they seem to feel an abhorrence. This includes, of course, human nature. Baudelaire’s maxim, “la femme est naturelle, c’est à dire abominable,” echoes traditional Japanese sentiments exactly. People, especially women, have to be redecorated as it were, ritualized, and as far as humanly possible, turned into works of art” (Ian Buruma, Behind the Mask, New York, 1984, p. 65). In the Japanese world of tradition, ritual and form, there is no unvarnished, unadulterated or spontaneous nature; all is style. Just so: Miss ko2 is a sculpture of a cartoon character, based on a popular Japanese waitress, whose uniform is borrowed from a restaurant in Hawaii, that serves Pennsylvania Dutch cooking. In Murakami’s art, each sign points to another sign, which points to another sign, and so on. The artifice of Murakami’s sculpture becomes all the more apparent when it is compared with another modern sculpture of a girl of a similar age standing in a similar pose: Degas’s celebrated Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer (fig 3). In Murakami’s work, all is fantasy and play, while in the Degas there is a strong impression of the real presence of the young girl — it is fundamentally naturalistic — and although one sees her in repose, one is even aware of the painstaking effort she must endure to mold her body to the demands and discipline of her art. In comparing the two sculptures, one can see the contrast between, and the collision of, European high art and Japanese pop culture in Murakami’s work. William Gibson, the novelist (and the man who coined the term “cyberspace”), has often written about Japanese culture and about Tokyo as the harbingers of the future. He has commented, too, on otaku and its parallels with Western traditions of connoisseurship and art collecting: “The otaku, the passionate obsessive, the information age’s embodiment of the connoisseur … seems a natural crossover figure in today’s interface of [Western] and Japanese cultures. Understanding otaku-hood, I think, is one of the keys to understanding the culture of the web. There is something profoundly post-national about it, extra-geographic. We are all curators, in the post-modern world, whether we want to be or not …” (William Gibson, “Modern Boys and Mobile Girls,” The Observer, April 1, 2001, p. 8.) Shocking, astonishing, humorous: Miss ko2 embodies both ancient Japanese traditions, and their contemporary transformation in otakuculture; and it points to some of the same transformations emerging in the hybridization of culture all over the world today.`

title

Miss ko²

medium

Oil paint, acrylic, synthetic resin, fiberglass, and iron.

signed

Signed ‘TAKASHI’ and inscribed with the names of his assistants who contributed to the execution of the work (inside the torso). This work is from an edition of 3 plus 1 AP.

creator

Takashi Murakami

exhibited

New York, Feature, Murakami: Hiropon, Project ko2, February–March 1997 (another example exhibited); Tokyo, Big Sight, Wonder Festival ’98, January 1998 (another example exhibited); Annandale-on-Hudson, Center for Curatorial Studies Museum, Takashi Murakami The Meaning of the Nonsense of the Meaning, June–September 1999, pp. 38, 58 and 60, pl. 15 (another example exhibited and illustrated); Tokyo, Museum of Contemporary Art, TAKASHI MURAKAMI: summon monsters? open the door? heal? or die?, August 25 –November 4, 2001, pl. f, no. 27 (another example exhibited and illustrated); Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, c Murakami, October 29, 2007 – February 11, 2008; New York, Brooklyn Museum of Art, April 5 – July 13, 2008; and Bilbao, Guggenheim Museum, February 17 – May 31, 2009, pp. 83 – 85 (another example exhibited and illustrated); Chateau de Versailles, Murakami Versailles, September 14 – December 12, 2010 (another example exhibited and illustrated)

dimensions

72 x 25 x 32 1/2 in. (182.9 x 63.5 x 82.6 cm).

literature

G. Molinari, “Takashi Murakami,” in Flash Art, March/April 1998, p. 106 (another example illustrated); “Wonder festival ’98,” in Design Plex, March 1998, p. 28 (illustrated); M. Asano, “The Readymade Hall of Fame,” in Monthly Model Graphix, April 1998, pp. 43 – 49 (another example illustrated); M. Matsui, “Takashi Murakami,” in Index, November 1998, p. 49 (another example illustrated); K. Itoi, “Pop Goes the Artist,” in Newsweek, Summer 2001 (Special Issue), p. 86 (another example illustrated); H. Kelmachter, Takashi Murakami Kaikai Kiki, Paris 2002, p. 77 (another example illustrated); J. Roberts, “Magic Mushrooms,” in Frieze, October 2002, p. 68; J. Huckbody, “Shooting from the hip,” in i-D Magazine, February 2003, p. 81 (another example illustrated); N. Ratnam, interview in i-D Magazine, February 2003, p. 86 (another example illustrated); A. Browne, “When Takashi Met Marc,” in V, Issue 22, March – April 2003 (another example illustrated); M. Naves, “Warhol, Porn and Vuitton,” in The New York Observer,April 15, 2008

provenance

Marianne Boesky, New York


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


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