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PROPERTY FROM A PRESTIGIOUS AMERICAN COLLECTION

Takashi Murakami
MISS KO2 ORIGINAL (PROJECT KO2)
Estimate
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Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
2,000,0003,000,000
LOT SOLD. 3,080,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
46

PROPERTY FROM A PRESTIGIOUS AMERICAN COLLECTION

Takashi Murakami
MISS KO2 ORIGINAL (PROJECT KO2)
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
2,000,0003,000,000
LOT SOLD. 3,080,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York

Takashi Murakami
B.1962
MISS KO2 ORIGINAL (PROJECT KO2)
signed, numbered 024/5, and inscribed with the names of the contributing assistants on the interior of the torso
fiberglass, iron, synthetic resin, oil paint, and acrylic
72 by 25 by 32 1/2 in. 182.9 by 63.5 by 82.6 cm.
Executed in 1997, this work is number 3 from an edition of 3 plus one artist's proof.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Marianne Boesky, New York
Private Collection
Phillips de Pury & Company New York, November 8, 2010, Lot 10
Private Collection, New York
Private Collection, New York (acquired from the above)
Sotheby's Hong Kong, April 2, 2017, Lot 1050 (consigned by the above)
Acquired by the present owner from the above

Exhibited

New York, Feature, Murakami: Hiropon, Project ko2, February - March 1997
Tokyo, Big Sight, Wonder Festival '98, January 1998 (another example)
Annandale-on-Hudson, Center for Curatorial Studies Museum, Bard College, Takashi Murakami The Meaning of the Nonsense of the Meaning, June - September 1999, p. 38, no. 15, illustrated in color (ed. 2/3), p. 58, illustrated in color (ed. 2/3), and p. 59 (detail)
Tokyo, Makuhari Messe, Tokyo Wonder Festival, Summer 2000 (ed. 1/3 and ed. 2/3)
Tokyo, Museum of Contemporary Art of Tokyo, TAKASHI MURAKAMI: summon monsters? open the door? heal? or die?, August - November 2001, n.p., illustrated (another example)
Los Angeles, The Museum of Contemporary Art; New York, Brooklyn Museum of Art; Frankfurt, Museum für Moderne Kunst; and Bilbao, Guggenheim Museum, ©Murakami, October 2007 - May 2009, p. 69, illustrated in color (detail) (ed. 2/3), p. 85, illustrated in color (installed in the exhibition Wonder Festival, Tokyo, Summer 2000) (ed. 1/3 and ed. 2/3), p. 86, illustrated in color (detail) (ed. 2/3), p. 87, illustrated in color (ed. 2/3)
Paris, Chateau de Versailles, Murakami Versailles, September - December 2010, pp. 92-95, illustrated in color (detail) (ed. 2/3), p. 98, illustrated in color (ed. 2/3), p. 100, illustrated in color (detail) (ed. 2/3), p. 171, illustrated in color (ed. 2/3), pp. 100-101, illustrated in color (detail) (ed. 1/3)
Seoul, PLATEAU, Samsung Museum of Art, Takashi in Superflat Wonderland, July - December 2013, pp. 36-39, illustrated in color (another example), p. 109 (text)

Literature

G. Molinari, "Takashi Murakami," Flash Art, March/April 1998, p. 106
M. Asano, "The Readymade Hall of Fame," Monthly Model Graphix, April 1998, pp. 43-49 
M. Matsui, "Takashi Murakami," Index, November 1998, p. 49
K. Itoi, "Pop Goes the Artist," Newsweek, Summer 2001, p. 86
Exh. Cat., Paris, Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain à Paris (and travelling), Takashi Murakami: Kaikai Kiki, 2002, p. 77, illustrated in color (detail) (ed. 2/3)
James Roberts, "Magic Mushrooms," Frieze, October 2002, p. 68 (text)
J. Huckbody, "Shooting from the Hip," i-D Magazine, February 2003, p. 81 
N. Ratnam, i-D Magazine, February 2003, p. 86 
A. Browne, "When Takashi Met Marc," 22, March - April 2003 
M. Naves, "Warhol, Porn and Vuitton," The New York Observer, April 15, 2008
Lai Yu-fu, "Special Feature: Takashi Murakami," Bijutsu, 2010, p. 18, illustrated in color (installed in the exhibition Murakami Versailles, Paris, 2010) (ed. 2/3)

Catalogue Note

One of Takashi Murakami’s most recognizable characters, Miss Ko2 Original (Project Ko2is a larger-than-life example of the artist’s trademark fusion of a Japanese pop aesthetic with Western cultural ideals. The exaggerated dimensions of this parodic sex symbol offer testament to the outsized cultural phenomenon that Murakami’s irreverently provocative output has become. Merging high and low culture to form his revolutionary “Superflat” philosophy, Murakami here offers a critical take on the psychologically conflicted relationship between East and West that engendered otaku, a Japanese “geek” subculture obsessed with the fantasy worlds of animation and comics. This voluptuous waitress, the first of his life-size adaptations of characters such as Hiropon and My Lonesome Cowboy, has been exhibited at such prominent institutions as the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art and the Palace of Versailles, underscoring the important role she plays in the artist’s oeuvre. Carrying extraordinary critical and cultural currency, Miss Ko2 Original (Project Ko2is positioned firmly at the apex of Murakami’s ubiquitous iconography.

A sleekly painted, cartoonishly proportioned figure, Miss Ko2 Original (Project Ko2) is begotten by such predecessors as Hans Bellmer’s Surrealist dolls, Charles Ray’s monumental Big Ladies, and Jeff Koons’s Pink Panther. The Playboy Bunny-like model, dressed in a miniskirt, schoolgirl tie, and cherry red heels, holds out a welcoming hand, apparently eager to serve viewers a glimpse of her emphatically sexualized curves and impossibly long limbs. Though this style of female figuration is common in otaku drawings and small figurines, Murakami was the first to produce it on such a monumental scale, bringing its problematic distortion into acute focus. With Miss Ko2 Original (Project Ko2), he subverts the seductiveness of manga and anime imagery by inflating and further amplifying the sexuality of these characters. The resulting super-human figure unmasks and conquers the voyeuristic nature of otaku fantasy by actualizing it in the extreme.

Meaning child, young woman, or geisha, the Japanese word ko is also associated with a restaurant server. Accordingly, Miss Ko2 Original (Project Ko2dons a uniform reminiscent of that of the waitresses at the Anna Miller restaurant chain in Tokyo, a popular hangout in the otaku scene, known for employing buxom waitresses in skimpy costumes—a Japanese version of the Hooters chain in America. A widely popular choice in cosplay, the Anna Miller uniform is representative of Japanese anime and manga which in turn reflects the fetishized combination of prepubescent innocence and brazen sexuality. The sculpture’s wide eyes and open-mouthed smile give her an aura of childish innocence that is at odds with with her courtesan’s pose and outrageous figure. Rendered in a high level of sculptural detail, Miss Ko2 Original (Project Ko2) exudes a charged hyper-sexuality combined with an obvious plastic artificiality that exemplifies the ancient Japanese ideal of woman as doll or puppet. Miss Ko2 Original (Project Ko2)’s rosy skin, enormous luminous eyes and enlarged bosom all glow with an unnatural saturated vibrancy, confronting the viewer head-on with his or her own voyeuristic gaze. At once symbol and humanoid, evoking desire, self-introspection, and humor, the present work implicates not just Japanese contemporary culture but the global obsession with viewing and commoditizing female bodies.

Miss Ko2 Original (Project Ko2)’s origins are firmly rooted in Murakami’s trademark Superflat multiverse. Originally trained in the traditional Japanese art of nihonga, Murakami saw great similarities between the flat composition of that painting style and the simplified aesthetics of anime and manga. Nihonga, first practiced at the beginning of the twentieth century, offered a reaction against Western influence on previously cloistered Japan by asserting Japanese traditions and techniques. Manga, by contrast, was largely fueled by post-war American occupation of Japan, as young GIs popularized U.S. comics, television, and cartoons. Murakami, synthesizing the two forms, developed a unique and wholly contemporary aesthetic language, emphasizing two-dimensional forms and bold, striking imagery. As curator Gary Carrion-Murayari has posited: “Gradually, Murakami has erased the distinction between himself and the cultural position he inhabits. The complex iconography he has built may have been extracted from Japanese entertainment, but these images have become Murakami’s own icons – or better yet, avatars – which he uses to negotiate the relationship between East and West.” (Exh. Cat., Doha, Al Riwaq, Murakami: Ego, 2012, p. 119) Drawing on iconography from such wide-ranging sources as classical Japanese scrolls, American Pop Art, commercial design, and Abstract Expressionism, Murakami’s hybridized art, exemplified by Miss Ko2 Original (Project Ko2), not only put otaku on the map of the contemporary art world but also co-opted it to reference and embody the overwhelming global phenomenon of cultural collisions that remains startlingly relevant decades after its execution.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York