Chances are, your exposure to Takashi Murakami's work is limited to his larger than life cartoons, that one Kanye West album cover and the artist’s endless supply of colorful merchandise. So when you step inside "The Octopus Eats its Own Leg" exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art, you might think you’ve taken a wrong turn. That’s the point. The evolutionary exhibit explores where Murakami has been (never-before-seen paintings from the '80s) and where he’s going (sprawling multi-panel works created exclusively for the exhibit).
Upon entering the exhibit, patrons are greeted with dark and moody paintings that Murakami was hesitant to have displayed: Colors (1989), a deep sea of lapis lazuli on washi paper, and Nuclear Power Picture, where two shadowy figures stand in front of nuclear cooling towers. Upon finishing the exhibit, it’s worth swinging through this first room again to really bring Murakami’s work full circle.
The subsequent rooms explore Murakami’s masterpieces in anime and manga, the various states of his beloved alter ego Mr. DOB, smiling daisies galore, commercial collaborations (including a most lovable Kanye Bear), towering sculptures and new masterpieces. The exhibit is an experience for the senses, offering both familiar and unfamiliar works. Some of the pieces are meant to be taken in from afar, but with others, like 100 Arhats, guests are encouraged to get up close and personal to examine every painstaking detail, including nose hairs and toenails.
"The Octopus Eats its Own Leg" is the summer's must-see exhibit for fans and Murakami newbies alike. It's the artist like you've never seen him before, mushrooms and daisies included.