Murakami has often argued that there is no indigenous tradition of distinguishing between high and low cultural products in Japan, where art is routinely exhibited in department stores and luxury merchandise can be seen in museums. In the 1990s, he coined the term Superflat to describe this condition of nonhierarchical flatness, linking it to the formal tendency toward two-dimensionality in Japanese art, from Edo screens to anime to his own depthless paintings, such as this DOB variation. For those of us who were reared on the idea that art is a special kind of luxury product—more contemplative, denser with meaning, somehow resistant to the status quo—Murakami’s radical leveling of art and commerce can be pretty unsettling.

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