Yoshitomo Nara

BIOGRAPHY

1959-

Yoshitomo Nara was born in in Northern Japan and spent much of his time alone with only his imagination, comic books and family pets as company. Informed by elements of popular culture ranging from manga and anime to punk rock, Nara fuses Japanese visual traditions and Western Modernism. He is one of the leading artists of Japan’s influential Neo Pop movement and is best known for his depictions of simultaneously cute and devilish children and animals. Nara and the Tokyo Pop art movement reflect the experiences of a generation of artists who grew up during the post-World War II economic boom in Japan that was characterized by, among other things, an influx of popular culture from the West, including the animation of Warner Bros and Walt Disney.


Nara earned both his BFA and MFA from Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music in Nagoya, Japan, following with additional studies at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, also known as the German State Academy of Arts. Nara's first big break came in the late 1990's when he joined Japanese cult novelist Banana Yoshimoto on a book project. Around this time, he also created the CD jacket artwork for The Star Club, a Japanese punk band, as well as for Japanese girl band Shonen Knife. These projects exposed Nara's work to a broader audience. He continued teaching and in 1998 worked as a visiting professor at the University of California at Los Angeles. In the early 2000s, photographer Mie Morimoto spent six months with Nara and produced a documentary book titled, Birth and Present: A Studio Portrait of Yoshitomo Nara. He has had solo exhibitions at Blum & Poe in Santa Monica, CA; Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, IL; Pace Prints in New York, NY; the Asia Society Museum in New York, NY; and many other institutions.