Open main menu

Wikipedia β

Yoshitomo Nara (奈良 美智, Nara Yoshitomo, born 5 December 1959 in Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture, Japan) is a Japanese artist. He lives and works in Tokyo, though his artwork has been exhibited worldwide. Nara has had nearly 40 solo exhibitions since 1984.[2] His art work has been housed at the MoMA and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA). His most well-known and repeated subject is a young girl with piercing eyes.

Yoshitomo Nara, 奈良美智
Yoshitomo Nara Yokohama 2012.jpg
Born (1959-12-05) 5 December 1959 (age 58)
Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture, Japan
Nationality Japanese
Alma mater Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Germany
Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music, Nagakute Aichi, Japan
Known for sculpture, painting
Notable work Sorry, couldn't draw left eye! (2003),
Straight Jacket (2000),
Sprout the Ambassador (2001)[1]
Awards Award for Artist, Nagoya, Japan, 1995


Background and educationEdit

Nara received his B.F.A. (1985) and an M.F.A. (1987) from the Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music. Between 1988 and 1993, Nara studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, in Germany.[3]


"Nara first came to the fore of the art world during Japan’s Pop art movement in the 1990s. The subject matter of his sculptures and paintings is deceptively simple: most works depict one seemingly innocuous subject (often pastel-hued children and animals drawn with confident, cartoonish lines) with little or no background. But these children, who appear at first to be cute and even vulnerable, sometimes brandish weapons like knives and saws. Their wide eyes often hold accusatory looks that could be sleepy-eyed irritation at being awoken from a nap—or that could be undiluted expressions of hate."[4]

Nara, however, does not see his weapon-wielding subjects as aggressors. "Look at them, they [the weapons] are so small, like toys. Do you think they could fight with those?" he says. "I don’t think so. Rather, I kind of see the children among other, bigger, bad people all around them, who are holding bigger knives…"[5] Lauded by art critics, Nara’s bizarrely intriguing works have gained him a cult following around the world.[4] Large original paintings regularly sell for millions of dollars.[6] In June, 2005, Nara's artwork was featured in the album titled "Suspended Animation" by experimental band Fantômas. Other commercial products (including videos, books, magazines, catalogues and monographs) have been dedicated to Nara’s work. Recently, a two-volume catalogue raisonné of all his sculptures, paintings, and drawings was completed.[7]

Light My Fire from 2001

In 2010, the Asia Society showed Yoshitomo Nara: Nobody's Fool the first major New York exhibition of his work.[8] Other major retrospectives include: "I Don’t Mind If You Forget Me", which toured Japan between 2001 and 2002; and "Yoshitomo Nara: Nothing Ever Happens," which traveled the United States from 2003 to 2005.[7]


The manga and anime of his 1960s childhood are both influences on Nara's stylized, large-eyed figures.[9] Nara subverts these images, however, by infusing his works with horror-like imagery. This juxtaposition of human evil with the innocent child may be a reaction to Japan's rigid social conventions.[1]

The punk rock music of Nara's youth has also influenced the artist's work.[10] Recalling a similar violent youth, Nara's art embraces the punk ethos.

Nara’s upbringing in post-World War II Japan profoundly affected his mindset and, subsequently, his artwork as well. He grew up in a time when Japan was experiencing an inundation of Western pop culture; comic books, Walt Disney animation, and Western rock music are just a few examples.[11] Additionally, Nara was raised in the isolated countryside as a latchkey child of working-class parents, so he was often left alone with little to do but explore his young imagination. The fiercely independent subjects that populate so much of his artwork may be a reaction to Nara's own largely independent childhood.[12]



  1. ^ a b Holzwarth, Hans W. (2009). 100 Contemporary Artists A-Z (Taschen's 25th anniversary special ed.). Köln: Taschen. pp. 410–412. ISBN 978-3-8365-1490-3. 
  2. ^ "San Jose Museum of Art". Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  3. ^ "Yoshitomo Nara biography". Retrieved 12 April 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "NARA". Retrieved 12 April 2013. 
  5. ^ Yoshitomo Nara Archived September 23, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b "Artist Profile: Yoshitomo Nara". Retrieved 2013-04-12. 
  8. ^ St.-Lascaux, David (October 2010). "Hey, Ho, Let's Go: YOSHITOMO NARA at the Asia Society". The Brooklyn Rail. 
  9. ^ "Yoshitomo Nara". Archived from the original on June 19, 2013. Retrieved 12 April 2013. 
  10. ^ Chiu, Melissa. "Yoshitomo Nara". 
  11. ^ Chambers, Kristin. "Yoshitomo Nara". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 12 April 2013. 
  12. ^ Mizota, Sharon. "Little Triggers". Retrieved 12 April 2013. 

External linksEdit