Takashi Murakami (b. 1962)

One of the biggest names in the contemporary art world, Japanese artist Takashi Murakami's work is immediately recognizable for its popping, candylike colors and anime-esque aesthetic. Often featuring playful imagery like smiling flowers, oversized, blinking eyes, and Technicolor mushrooms, Murakami is truly the heir to Warhol in his ability to appropriate commercial, popular images inspired by anime and manga (Japanese comics) into high-quality pieces of fine art. Because of his commercial appeal, his works have been translated onto various other media ranging from keychains and mugs to a 2009 collaboration with French couture powerhouse Louis Vuitton.

Not to be written off as just another Pop artist however, Murakami's work is highly informed by the Japanese art-historical tradition. The founder of the postmodern art movement "Superflat,"which combines the graphic practices of contemporary Japanese culture with the flattening print and painting traditions of its rich past, Murakami has pioneered an aesthetic that has been taken up by numerous followers and is himself regarded almost as colorful as his works. In 2010, a selection of Murakami's sculptures were featured against the opulent, iconic Western background of Ch√Ęteau de Versailles, causing a stir throughout the art world with the bold juxtaposition of his contemporary, cartoon aesthetic against the grandiosity of French rococo.