Little Boy: The Arts of Japan’s Exploding Subculture, Curated by Takashi Murakami

April 8, 2005
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A major exhibition and series of public art installations, curated by Takashi Murakami. Organized by Japan Society in collaboration with Public Art Fund.

Little Boy: The Arts of Japan’s Exploding Subculture explored the culture of postwar Japan through its arts and popular visual media, from the perspective of one of Japan’s most celebrated artists. Focusing on the phenomenally influential subcultures of otaku (roughly translated as "pop cult fanaticism") and its relationships to Japan’s artistic vanguard, Takashi Murakami explores the historical influences that shape Japanese contemporary art and its distinct graphic idioms. The exhibition’s title, Little Boy, refers to the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, clearly locating the birth of these new cultural forms in the trauma and generational aftershock. In Murakami’s perspective, a resonant figure for Japan’s contemporary condition is that of the "little boy"–both the nickname for the bomb dropped on Hiroshima and an image of Japan’s infantalized culture.

Little Boy concluded Murakami’s "Superflat" trilogy, a project conceived in 2000 to introduce a new wave of Japanese artists and to place their work in the historical context of traditional Japanese styles and concepts. The exhibition showcased the work of key otaku artists and designers, many of whom are cult celebrities in Japan, and introduced their film and video animations, video games and internet sites, music, toys, and fashion to American audiences.

Work by Anno Hideaki, Aoshima Chiho, Ban Chinatsu, Fujiko F. Fujio, Kawashima Hideaki, Kato Izumi, Komatsuzaki Shigeru, Mahomi Kunikata, Matsumoto Reiji, Miura Jun, "Mr.," Narita Toru, Okamoto Taro, Oshima Yuki, Otomo Katsuhiro, Otomo Shoji, Takano Aya, Tsubaki Noboru, Yanobe Kenji, Yoshitomo Nara, and Murakami were exhibited. Public art works by Ban, Aoshima and Murakami were installed at sites throughout New York City.

This exhibition was sponsored by

Major support for this exhibition was provided by The W.L.S. Spencer Foundation.

Additional support was provided by the E. Rhodes & Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, The Rosenkranz Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, Asian Cultural Council, The Blakemore Foundation, The Japan Foundation, and the Leadership Committee for Little Boy.

Artist support for this exhibition was generously provided by Yoko Ono.


  • April 8, 2005 – July 24, 2005