Yoshitomo Nara

Born 1959.
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Works by Yoshitomo Nara at Sotheby's

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Yoshitomo Nara Biography

Born on 5 December 1959, Yoshitomo Nara is a Japanese artist who works across numerous mediums, but is best known for his cartoonish paintings of sullen children and animals. Earning both his BFA and MFA from the Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music, and later studying at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf during the late 1980s, Nara has consistently drawn inspiration from eastern and western sources. Nara’s childhood in post-war Japan – a time of increased exposure to Western pop culture such as comic books, Disney animation and popular music – is often cited as an early influence of Nara’s work. Although the artist has maintained that he has not been inspired by Japanese manga, his use of highly stylized, large-eyed figures has often drawn the comparison from critics. Instead, he has asserted that his work, which often juxtaposes seemingly innocent representations of children with sinister expressions or objects like knives, is instead spiritually based and made with religious and philosophical imperatives in mind.

Nara has developed a cult-like following, and he has had dozens of solo exhibitions worldwide, as well as a major retrospective that traveled to multiple venues between 2003 and 2005. Among the leading art institutions who have acquired Nara’s work are the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the National Museum of Art in Osaka, Japan. The accessible nature of his painting and his global popularity have resulted in a positive market, and according to Sotheby’s Mei Moses the average compound annual return for Yoshitomo Nara is 14%, with 88.9% of works increasing in value.

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Artist Image: 2009 Mark Von Holden