Tag Archives: Tokyo

8 Top Selling Artists 2015

Often anticapitalist by nature and sometimes offering scathing critiques of socio-economic systems, contemporary art is paradoxically highly sought-after for its commercial potential. While classics famously hold their value well enough to be considered an asset class, contemporary art  – where the artist is frequently alive and still working – is required to demonstrate its potential at auction regularly. Of course, the value of most contemporary art is nebulous but therein lies the excitement.

Our friends at Art Republik give us the low-down on eight living artists whose best-selling work combined nets more than USD150 million…

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Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons was born in 1955 in York, Pennsylvania, United States of America. He received his B.F.A. from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1976. Koons is known for his exploration of contemporary consumer culture in his oeuvre. His series of works include “Equilibrium” (1985), which feature ready-made basketballs floating in distilled water in tanks made of glass and steel,  “Banality” (1988), mostly sculptures of toys and popular icons rendered in porcelain and polychromed wood, and “Made in Heaven” (1989-1991), centered around photorealist paintings and sculptures of the artist engaged in sexual intercourse in varied positions with his ex-wife Ilona Staller, an adult film star.

Koons’ “Balloon Dog” sculptures in five color versions – blue, magenta, yellow, orange and red – are probably among his most well known works. These are from the “Celebration” series, which presents giant mirror-polished stainless steel sculptures with transparent color coating.

The artist has pioneered new techniques for the making of his artworks. For the “Celebration” series, for example, he collaborated with Arnold AG, a metalwork mill in Germany to make the sculptures’ high-shine surface. In addition, he used the CAT scan, typically used in hospitals, to get an all-round imaging of subjects so that the enlarged versions could be reproduced to perfection. He also has a unique way of working. Koons’ works are made in a studio that employs more than 100 assistants who fabricate his work.

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“Balloon Dog (Orange)”

2008 was a particularly productive year for Koons, with solo exhibitions at Château de Versailles, France, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin. More recently, in 2014, “Jeff Koons: A Retrospective”, was held at the Whitney Museum of American Art. It has now traveled to the Centre Pompidou, Paris, and will be at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao later in the year.

Koons’ first million-dollar work sold was the “Pink Panther” (1988) from the “Banality” series, which transacted at Christie’s in 1999 for USD1.8 million (1988). In 2013, he became the most expensive living artist when “Balloon Dog (Orange)” sold for USD52 million at Christie’s. He holds the title to this date.

Koons lives and works in New York.

In Brief

  • Age: 60
  • Nationality: American
  • Gallery Representation: David Zwirner Gallery, Gagosian Gallery, Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont, Galerie Max Hetzler
  • Big Break: Koons’ “Banality” series (1988), featuring the work, “Michael Jackson and Bubbles”, exhibited at the Sonnabend Gallery in New York City in 1989.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “Balloon Dog (Orange)”, 1994-2000, mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent color coating, 307.3 x 363.2 x 114.3cm. Price including buyer’s premium: USD58.4 million. Sold at Christie’s, New York, November 2013

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Zeng Fanzhi, Mask Series No. 5, 1994, oil on canvas, 180 x 150 cm. Sold at Sotheby’s, Hong Kong, October 2010.

Zeng Fanzhi

Zeng Fanzhi was born in Wuhan, China in 1964. He graduated from Hubei Academy of Fine Arts in 1991, where he specialized in oil painting.

Before moving to Beijing in 1993, he began painting the “Hospital” series, showing tableaus from the hospital, and the “Meat” series that contrast human beings with butchered meat, inspired by the hospital and the butcher’s shop he lived next to. From these first works, the characters began to be drawn with disproportionately larger hands, which persisted into his “Mask” series.

Zeng Fanzhi is probably best known for his paintings in this series of figures standing in groups or alone, wearing white masks with big smiles. This was motivated by his interactions with people in the capital of China, whom he thought hid their true identities and feelings from others and perhaps from themselves as well, in a representation of the Chinese people’s feelings of isolation in the decade after the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.

An adventurous artist who has experimented with different styles, Zeng began drawing landscapes in 2004, mostly covered with bare intertwining branches, inspired by the unexpected beauty he saw in a pot of Chinese wisteria in his studio. He also painted portraits of luminaries in western culture such as Francis Bacon and Andy Warhol in 2010.

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“The Last Supper”, 2001, oil on canvas, 220 x 395 cm.

Zeng first set a new world auction record for Chinese contemporary art in May 2008, when his diptych Mask Series 1996 No. 6 sold for USD9.7 million at Christie’s in Hong Kong. This featured eight members of the Young Pioneers, the Communist Party’s youth movement, wearing their representative red scarves, and Zeng’s signature masks. In 2013, his painting, “The Last Supper” sold for USD23 million at Sotheby’s. He remains the most expensive living Asian artist.

In the same year, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris presented the first French retrospective of 40 paintings and sculptures from Zeng made between 1990 and 2012.

Zeng lives and works in Beijing.

In Brief

  • Age: 51
  • Nationality: Chinese
  • Gallery Representation: Gagosian Gallery, Acquavella Galleries, Gallery Hyundai, ShangArt, Hanart TZ Gallery
  • Big Break: Fresh out of art school, paintings from Zeng Fanzhi’s “Hospital” series were selected by Johnson Chang from Hanart TZ Gallery based in Hong Kong to be included in an exhibition at Hong Kong Arts Centre in 1993 titled “China’s New Art, Post-1989”. This introduced the artist to the art community, and at the same time gave Zeng tremendous encouragement to continue pursuing his career as an artist.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “The Last Supper”, 2001, oil on canvas, 220 x 395 cm. Price including buyer’s premium: USD23.3 million, Sotheby’s Hong Kong, October 2013

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Installation view, Takashi Murakami’s exhibition, In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow, Gagosian Gallery, New York, 10 November – January 17 2015 © 2014 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Photography by Robert McKeever.

Takashi Murakami

Takashi Murakami was born in 1962 in Tokyo, and received his BFA, MFA and PhD from the Tokyo University of the Arts, formerly the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.

A multi-hyphenate, Murakami is involved in many aspects of the art world, and works as an artist, a gallerist, a curator and an art theorist, among others. He founded the Hiropon factory in Tokyo in 1996 for the production of his works, which later evolved into Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd., an art production and art management corporation. In addition to the production and marketing of Murakami’s art and related work, it manages and promotes emerging artists.

Murakami has organized several influential exhibitions based on the theory of a tradition of a pervasive superflat look in contemporary Japanese visual culture, typified by manga, which refer to comic books, and anime, which refer to animation, that tend towards two-dimensionality. The first exhibition, titled simply “Superflat”, was held at Parco Gallery in Tokyo and Nagoya. It subsequently traveled to MoCA gallery in the Pacific Design Centre in Los Angeles, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, in 2001. He has followed up with exhibitions such as “Coloriage” at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris in 2002 and “Little Boy: The Art of Japan’s Exploding Subcultures” at the Japan Society in New York in 2005.

A pioneer in art-fashion collaborations, Murakami began working with Louis Vuitton in 2003. He first created the “Monogram Multicolore”, which featured the “LV” monogram in 33 bright colors. Since then, he has made special prints for the luxury fashion house’s leather goods that incorporate motifs such as cherry blossoms and pandas. In 2008, the limited edition “Monogramouflage” collection, for all products from iPhone cases to luggage, featured a juxtaposition of the khaki and beige camouflage print and the Louis Vuitton monogram.

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Takashi Murakami, “Lionel Messi and a Universe of Flowers,” 2014, acrylic and platinum leaf on canvas laid down on board, 70 7/8 x 70 7/8 in

A notable recent exhibition is “Takashi in Superflat Wonderland” at the PLATEAU Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul Korea in late 2013, where some of the artist’s most iconic works were on display, including one of the artist’s “Superflat Flowers” sculptures made in 2010. Also in the exhibition was a fiberglass sculpture of “Miss Ko2”, a buxom character created by Murakami as a commentary on otaku culture, an obsession with anime and manga, and the resultant desire to have these unreal characters come to life.

Not content to rest on his laurels, Murakami is constantly innovating. In 2013, he released his first feature film, “Jellyfish Eyes”, which mixes live action with cartoon characters, with plans for a sequel.

Murakami lives and works in Tokyo.

In Brief

  • Age: 53
  • Nationality: Japanese
  • Gallery Representation: Gagosian Gallery, Blum & Poe, Galerie Perrotin, Kaikai Kiki Gallery
  • Big Break: Murakami had an international traveling retrospective, “©Murakami”, showing over 90 works by the artist that kicked off at The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles in 2008. In an interview in W Magazine in April 2013, Murakami said that this exhibition was a turning point in his career, stating that he thought the conventional view before the exhibition was that he was merely an artist influenced by Japanese subculture. The exhibition was persuasive of the strength of his artworks to have a place in art history.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “My Lonesome Cowboy”, 1998, oil, acrylic, fiberglass, iron, 254 x 116.8 x 91.4cm. Price including buyer’s premium: USD15.1 million, Sotheby’s, New York, May 2008

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Tracey Emin, My Bed, 1998, mattress, linens, pillows, objects, 211 x 234 cm. World auction record for the artist at Christie’s, London, July 2014. Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd. 2014.

Tracey Emin

Tracey Emin was born in London in 1963, and studied at Maidstone College of Art and the Royal College of Art, London, where she earned her Master’s degree in 1989.

Emin’s art is inspired by her personal life. Her artworks reflect universal emotions and are both relatable and confrontational. These are created in wide range of mediums, including, painting, photography, textile, video, installation and sculpture.

In 1999, Emin was shortlisted for the Turner Prize, an annual prize awarded to a British visual artist below the age of 50. This was for her provocative work, “My Bed”, an installation of the artist’s bed complete with liquor bottles, cigarette butts, worn underwear, condoms and rumpled stained bedsheets, the scene of a post-breakup breakdown.

Among other works by Emin are her “I’ve Got It All” photograph from 2000 showing the artist seated on the floor with ample cleavage, her legs wide open, bills and coins pressed against her crotch. She is also known for her neon light installations, which she has produced since the 1990s, featuring evocative messages such as “You Forgot to Kiss My Soul” (2001) and “You Loved Me Like a Distant Star” (2012).

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Tracey Emin

Emin has exhibited extensively. In 2007, she represented Britain at the 52nd Venice Biennale. The first major retrospective exhibition of Emin’s work opened at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in 2008, and traveled to Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga, Spain and the Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland. In May 2011, Emin had a major survey exhibition, “Love is What You Want” at the Hayward Gallery in London.

Emin currently lives and works in London.

In Brief

  • Age 52
  • Nationality British
  • Gallery Representation Lehmann Maupin, White Cube
  • Big Break Charles Saatchi’s “Sensation” exhibition at the Royal Academy, London included Emin’s much-discussed work “Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995”, which was a tent embroidered with over 100 names of people she had slept with, including 32 lovers, and 80 people she had only slept next to.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold “My Bed”, 1998, mattress, linens, pillows, objects, 79 x 211 x 234 cm. Price including buyer’s premium: USD4.3 million, Christie’s, London, July 2014

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Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild, 1986, oil on canvas, 300.6 x 250.5 cm. World auction record for the artist at Sotheby’s, London, February 2015. Courtesy Sotheby’s.

Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter was born in 1932 in Dresden, Germany. He studied at the Staatliche Kunstakademie, or the State Academy of Art, in Düsseldorf under the eminent German artist Karl Otto Götz from 1961 to 1964.

Richter has had an illustrious career spanning over half a century. Beginning in the 1960s, the author painted, in grey scale, renditions of blown-up blurred black-and-white photographs he had taken of still lifes, portraits and landscapes, such as “Kitchen Chair” (1965), “Helen” (1963) and possibly his most well-known work of the period, “Domplatz, Mailand” (1968), measuring nearly 3 meters by 3 meters, featuring the Cathedral Square in Milan. This iconic work appears to vibrate with Richter’s signature fuzzy blur in his photo-paintings, which had the capacity to soften or destabilize an image.

Beginning in the late 1960s, Richter created his “Colour Chart” and “Grey Paintings” series that were based on his exploration of color. “1024 Colours” was made in four unique editions, and feature neat ovoids of 1024 different colors painted in a grid at random. His “Grey Paintings” were inspired by the use of shades of the color in his photo-based paintings.

In the 1980s, Richter started to apply a squeegee across the canvas to scrape and smear freshly laid paint to create intuitive paintings that revealed hidden layers, and from the 1990s, the tool was applied both horizontally and vertically to create new possibilities in the final works.

Richter has exhibited all over the world. He had a major exhibition, “Abstract Paintings”, in 1978 at the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, which traveled to the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London. In 1988, the artist was given his first North American retrospective, jointly organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. The exhibition traveled to Washington and San Francisco. In 2002, a 40-year retrospective of Richter’s work was held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York and in 2011, a major retrospective of the artist’s works opened at the Tate Modern, London and traveled to the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. Richter has also participated in multiple editions of the Venice Biennale and the Documenta in Kassel since 1972.

In 2012, Richter became the most expensive living artist after his work, “Abstraktes Bild (809-4)” (1994), sold for USD33 million in London, a title he held until 2013. Most recently, in February 2015, another “Abstraktes Bild” work, this one painted in 1986, sold for USD37 million, which made him the most expensive living artist
in Europe.

Richter has lived and worked in Cologne since 1983.

In Brief

  • Age: 83
  • Nationality: German
  • Gallery Representation: Marian Goodman Gallery, Scott White Contemporary Art
  • Big Break: In 1968, Richter was commisioned by Siemens AG to make a work to hang in their Milan offices. The result was “Domplatz, Mailand” (1968), at the time the artist’s largest figurative painting, and probably the most accomplished
  • photo-painting by the artist.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “Abstraktes Bild”, 1986, oil on canvas, 300.5 x 250.5cm. Price including buyer’s premium: USD46.3 million, Sotheby’s, London, February 2015

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Exhibition view of Yayoi Kusama, Ota Fine Arts, Singapore. Photography by Quek Jia Liang. Image courtesy of Ota Fine Arts

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama was born in Matsumoto City, Japan in 1929. She moved to the United States in 1957 before moving back to Japan in 1973. Kusama has had a rich and varied career as an artist for over five decades. Her works are in various mediums, including painting, sculpture, performance and installation. Among her most well known works are the “Infinity Net” paintings she began making in the late 1950s, made by adding white arcs onto a darker background on a large canvas. The “Accumulation” sculptures came after, and feature soft-sculptures she made by stitching cotton-stuffed cloth into phallic shapes to attach to furniture and clothing, as well as her trademark polka dot designs in both two- and three-dimensional works. In her time in New York in the 1960s, she was also a performance artist who staged provocative happenings, such as painting people in the nude in her trademark polka dots.

Kusama has exhibited all over the world. In 1993, she represented Japan at the Venice Biennale, for which she created an installation with a mirror room and multiple yellow pumpkin sculptures, the beginnings of similar sculptures covered in uneven black dots. In 1998, a major retrospective of her work made in New York, opened at the Los Angeles County Museum of art before traveling to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Walker Art Centre in Minneapolis, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo.

Notably, from 2011 to 2012, a touring exhibition of her works made its way to Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Tate Modern in London as well as the Whitney Museum in New York.

In 2012, Kusama collaborated with Louis Vuitton in an ambitious project that saw products such as leather goods and ready-to-wear fashion, in prints featuring Kusama’s signature polka dots – black polka dots against a yellow background, white against black and red against white, which took center stage in window displays of 460 Louis Vuitton stores in 64 countries, as well as seven special concept stores in Paris, London, and Tokyo.

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Yayoi Kusama, Shellfish, 1989, screenprint, 53.5 x 46 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and Ota Fine Arts.

In the past decade, Kusama has created immersive installations of walk-in rooms that create disorienting experiences for the viewer. “Fireflies on the Water” (2002) features 150 lights and a pool of water in the center of a room, whose surfaces are all covered with mirrors that give multiple reflections. “Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away” at the David Zwirner Gallery in late 2013 played on a similar concept with 75 colored LED lights that glimmered and pulsed in a small mirrored room. Another recent installation is “The Obliteration Room”, currently at the Queensland Art Gallery, where children add colorful dot stickers to white furniture, objects and surfaces.

Kusama lives and works in Tokyo.

In Brief

  • Age: 86
  • Nationality: Japanese
  • Gallery Representation: Ota Fine Arts, Victoria Miro, David Zwirner Gallery
  • Big Break: Kusama has had a long and successful career, but probably became a global household name when she collaborated with Louis Vuitton in 2012, which included not only a full range of products carrying her signature polka dots, but also the window displays of the luxury fashion house’s stores in over 60 countries.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “White No. 28”, 1960, oil on canvas, 147.6 x 111.1cm. Price including buyer’s premium: USD7.1 million, Christie’s, New York, November 2014

Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman, Untitled #463, 2007/2008, chromogenic color print, 174.2 x 182.9 cm, edition of 6. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures.

Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman is an American artist born in 1954 in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. She graduated from State University College, Buffalo, New York, in 1976. Her photographs have seen her take on multiple roles since her first series, “Untitled Film Stills” in the late 1970s, and continuing with “Centrefolds” (1981), in which she was photographed in an intimate setting as a vulnerable character, and “Fashion” (1983-84), exploring the objectification of women in the still image. The artist is at the center of each photograph, but in different guises, as she plays with identity through dress, transforming her image through hair, make-up, costumes, props and prosthetics.

Sherman has continued to create chameleon-like transformations in performative photographic works, such as in her humorous interpretations of old master paintings as photographs between 1989 and 1990, where she became the portraits’ subjects. Another series of similar works, this time with society portraits in 2008, saw Sherman dressed as aging socialites against moneyed backgrounds. These works poked fun at the trappings of excessive wealth and the obsession with youth and on-the-surface perfection in contemporary society.

While she is most famous for her more light-hearted self-portraits in different roles, she has created a significant number of works that are darker in nature. Beginning in the mid-1980s, her body of work expanded to include the “Fairy Tales” and Disasters” series that show grotesque scenes from which the artist is mostly absent. Other dark series include “Sex and Death” in the late 19080s, photographed using disfigured mannequins, “Pure Horror” in the mid-1990s and “Clowns” in the mid-2000s.

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Cindy Sherman, “Untitled Film Stills”, gelatin silver print, 25.4 x 20.3 cm. World auction record for the artist at Christie’s, New York, November 2014. Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd. 2015.

Sherman has had numerous solo exhibitions at home and abroad since the 1980s. Of particular note is a survey at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2012, which showcased more than 170 photographs from the artist’s extensive body of work. The exhibition also included the debut of Sherman’s new photographic murals, which saw her image manipulated digitally against a decorative toile background.

Sherman lives and works in New York.

In Brief

  • Age: 61
  • Nationality: American
  • Gallery Representation: Metro Pictures, Galerie Sprüth Magers
  • Big Break: “Untitled Film Stills”, shown at the landmark performance and video space The Kitchen in New York in 1980, was Sherman’s breakthrough. In these black-and-white photos, the artist took on 69 stereotypical female roles in movies such as the housewife and the femme fatale.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “Untitled Film Stills”, 1977, gelatin silver print, 25.4 x 20.3cm.
  • Price including buyer’s premium: USD6.8 million, Christie’s, New York, November 2014

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Andreas Gursky, Rhein II, 1999, chromogenic colour print face-mounted to plexiglass, 185.4 x 363.5 cm. World auction record for the artist at Christie’s, New York, November 2011. Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd. 2015.

Andreas Gursky

Andreas Gursky was born in Leipzig, Germany in 1955. He first studied photography at the Folkwang University of the Arts, formerly Folkwang Academy in Essen. He then attended the Staatliche Kunstakademie, or the State Academy of Art in Düsseldorf and studied under the influential German photographers Hilla and Bernd Becher from 1981 to 1987.

Gursky is known for his large-scale magnified photographs of varied scenes, which can measure up to 2 by 5 meters, reveal the conditions of contemporary times. Usually taken from an elevated vantage point, the artist’s photographic works are known for their stunning and often overwhelming clarity.

In the 1990s, Gursky began experimenting with digital manipulation through shooting the images on chromogenic prints, or c-prints using a large-format camera, then scanning the images for reworking on the computer to create his massive and precise photographs. One of the earliest works made this way was “Paris, Montparnasse” (1993), which showed an inhabited apartment building, and highlighted its uniformed structure and crowdedness in a commentary on the cookie-cutter mold of contemporary urban living. In “Rhein II”, Gursky merged photographs of different parts of the river together to exclude industrial activity, creating an imaginary serene landscape.

In 2011, this work became the most expensive photograph sold at auction.

A recurring theme in Gursky’s work is the effects of capitalism and globalization in contemporary society that put in place invisible systems. Perhaps his most recognizable images from the 1990s are of the Chicago Board of Trade from 1990, which, in contrast to “Rhein II”, shows a flurry of activity reflective of the trading floor’s organized chaos, with traders at the pit surrounded by circular rows of computers. In “99 Cent II Diptychon” (2001), which shows the interior of a 99 Cents Only store, the bright colors red, yellow and orange of rows of boxes were edited to jump out from the photograph, aided by the addition of a mirrored ceiling. The visually impressive work provided a stark reflection of an obsessive consumer culture in contemporary society.

From the mid-2000s, Gursky has worked on numerous projects in Asia, including Japan, Thailand, China and North Korea, among others. “Pyongyang”, a series of photographs of the annual Arirang Festival in North Korea in 2007 presented the heavily directed spectacle to the rest of the world. In taking the festival proceedings such as choreographed mass dances from a great distance, the resulting images look like colorful tapestries, and show the insignificance of the individual within the society.

Gursky has exhibited internationally. A 2001 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York traveled to Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Centre Pompidou, Paris, and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

In recent years, Gursky has also exhibited small photographs atypical to the rest of his oeuvre, such as in “Werke-Works 80-08,” which opened in Kunstmuseen Krefeld in Germany in 2008, and toured to Moderna Museet, Stockholm and Vancouver Art Gallery in 2009.

Gursky lives and works in Düsseldorf.

In Brief

  • Age: 60
  • Nationality: German
  • Gallery Representation: Galerie Sprüth Magers, Mai 36 Galerie, Matthew Marks Gallery
  • Big Break: Gursky acquired worldwide fame with his major solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, in 2001.
  • Most Expensive Work Sold: “Rhein II”, 1999, chromogenic print, Plexiglass, 207 x 385.5 x 6.2cm.
  • Price including buyer’s premium: USD4.3 million, Christie’s, New York, November 2011

Story Credits

Text by Nadya Wang

Dominique Ansel Tokyo Bakery

Dominique Ansel is opening a colossal bakery in Tokyo

Dominique Ansel Tokyo Bakery

Dominique Ansel, who has been delighting New Yorkers with his cronuts since 2013, will open his first foreign outpost in Japan.

On June 20, a futuristic stand-alone tower in the business and fashion district of Shibuya will be dedicated exclusively to the bakery and all of the French chef’s latest creations.

The launch zone will be a stand-alone three-story tower, a rare find in Tokyo where many retail spaces are located in enormous shopping malls.

A tower of delicacies

Futuristic Dominique Ansel Tokyo Bakery

The ground floor, dedicated to retail, will be decorated in a design inspired by New York City and Paris subway stations. There, connoisseurs will be able to revel in Dominique Ansel’s creations, including the famous cronut.

At the rear of the first floor will be seating space beneath a custom work of art depicting a combination of the NYC subway and Paris metro lines.

On the second floor is a café with table service where waiters will offer a menu different from the one downstairs. The menu’s emphasis will be on eggs, in part because chef Ansel has been so impressed with the quality of the eggs in Japan.

The most curious will venture up to the third floor, where they will have the opportunity to see all of Ansel’s tasty treats being prepared behind glass walls. And based on the fervor of the Japanese for the work of Pierre Hermé and the chocolates of Pierre Marcolini, you can expect that third floor to be crawling with visitors at all times.

This Japanese outpost will join the French pastry chef’s growing network, which already includes the first store in New York’s Soho and a second one opening not far away in the West Village at the end of the month.

Noma tableware

Noma selling used forks and spoons from Tokyo pop-up

Noma tableware

Noma has opened an online store that will sell the Japanese-designed chopsticks, forks, bowls and plates used during its pop-up event in Tokyo.

Fans who couldn’t score a seat during the Danish restaurant’s five-week residency at the Mandarin Oriental this month can buy a piece of the experience from their newly opened online store.

In preparation for the temporary takeover of the hotel’s dining room, Noma chef René Redzepi commissioned 14 local Japanese artists, potters and chefs to create locally sourced tableware for his pop-up.

The result is a collection of artisanal and eye-wateringly pricey earthenware plates and bowls and organic lacquer forks and spoons.

A single pair of chopsticks is priced at $65 USD, while a single fork or spoon will set you back $200 USD.

The collection was co-curated by designer Sonya Park, also the creative director of design brand Arts & Science in Tokyo.

The pop-up event in Tokyo ends this week.

Christmas cake for Ducasse

Karl Lagerfeld creates Christmas cake for Alain Ducasse

Christmas cake for Ducasse

Chef ’s Tokyo-based eatery Beige has tapped Karl Lagerfeld to design a one-of-a kind Christmas cake for its 10th anniversary.

The creative director of Chanel, Lagerfeld chose to recreate an iconic lipstick shape combining rich flavors of caramel and dark chocolate.

STORY: ALAIN DUCASSE TO SEND FRENCH FOOD TO SPACE

Lagerfeld’s vision will become a reality in the capable hands of head pastry chef Julien Kientzler, who will take care to add the designer’s personal final touch: the interlocking Cs Chanel logo.

The limited edition pastry will be presented in an exclusive box featuring a sketch by Lagerfeld with only 100 cakes to be sold.

A representative indicated that at this point there are no plans in place to make the product available in Europe.

Collection Esprit Dior Tokyo

Raf Simons taking Dior pre-fall show to Tokyo

Collection Esprit Dior Tokyo

The  creative director will show the brand’s Pre-Fall 2015 collection in the Japanese capital in December.

After last week’s announcement that Chanel will be taking its Métiers d’Art show to Austria (Salzburg, to be precise), comes the news that Christian Dior will be heading to Japan for the same season.

According to a report by WWD, the French brand will be playing to the crowds in the Tokyo with a special show on December 11.

The brand is reportedly also readying a new store in the city’s Omotesando district, as well as an exhibition and photo book by French fashion photographer Patrick Demarchelier.

The trend for international shows in between the main Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer fashion weeks is now well established.

Collection Esprit Dior Tokyo 2015

Alongside Chanel’s ventures to Dallas, Singapore and Edinburgh over the past few seasons, Dior has also travelled to Brooklyn and Monaco to show off its collections.

ritz tokyo

The world’s cleanest hotels are in Tokyo!

ritz tokyo

Not all hotels live up to the same standards when it comes to cleanliness.

According to a recent study conducted by Hotel.info, Tourists are most likely to find an immaculate hotel room while traveling to .

In the cleanliness category, hotels in the Japanese capital scored an average rating of 8.93/10 on the website.

DON’T MISS: TOKYO MANDARIN: YOURS FOR A NIGHT AND $670,000

Next in the ranking is Warsaw, Poland with an average rating of 8.76, just ahead of Seoul, South Korea. Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, also achieved a high score (8.54), tying with Bulgarian capital Sofia.

Hotel Maid

At the other end of the ranking, although the ratings are not catastrophic, Rio de Janeiro holds the dubious distinction of the lowest score with 7.29/10.

Overall, Western European hotels hardly impressed the website’s users in terms of hygiene. Four of the continent’s capitals obtained some of the worst scores: London, England (7.52); Oslo, Norway (7.53); Amsterdam, the Netherlands (7.58) and Copenhagen, Denmark (7.60).

The world’s top tourist destination, Paris also has room for improvement: The French capital scored a paltry 7.63.

Peninsula Tokyo Pokemon

Pokémon comes to the Peninsula Tokyo hotel

Peninsula Tokyo Pokemon

Luxury hotel The Peninsula Tokyo has launched a PR campaign for their littlest guests by inviting characters from Pokémon to invade their hotel.

From October 1, kids staying at the hotel will get the chance to live out an episode of the cartoon with characters like Pikachu, Lucario and friends in an interactive game designed exclusively for the hotel.

Guests five and up will be armed with a Poké Ball and invited to hunt down Pokémon characters in a game that is a bit like hide and seek.

Only instead of hiding behind trees, they’ll be hiding amidst extravagant chandeliers and extravagant furnishings.

To please the silver spoon tastes of their pint-sized guests, luxury hotels know that serving milk and cookies isn’t enough.

The Burj Al Arab in Dubai also provides a personal butler service that includes bonbon and candy delivery service from a Sweet Train, a gold-plated iPad, and child-friendly excursions.

Alexander McQueen Aoyama flagship

Alexander McQueen opens Tokyo flagship

Alexander McQueen Aoyama flagship

  has unveiled its first flagship in Japan, a 4,200-square-foot space in Tokyo’s Aoyama neighborhood.

The new store is set over two storeys, has separate ready-to-wear and accessories sections and follows on from the brand’s accessories-only store, which opened in April 2013.

The retail concept was conceived by the brand’s creative director, Sarah Burton, along with architectural practice David Collins Studio. The design mixes flora and fauna with added influences from painters Francis Bacon and HR Giger as well as nods to the McQueen label’s history.

Alexander McQueen Aoyama flagship store

A heritage tailored jacket and the famous ‘armadillo’ shoe have been etched onto bespoke plaster panel moldings alongside a range of motifs from the natural world.

“The collections are presented in an environment that feels luxurious and precious which is also reflective of our design ethos,” explained Burton.

Alexander McQueen boutique Tokyo

The finishes include Calacatta Oro cracked marble flooring with deep pile carpets, and bronze animal feet on furniture, with the material also used to support marble shelves.

Other key elements include a one-piece marble staircase and a hanging installation by contemporary artists Takeo Hanazawa and Takao Togashi.

Givenchy Tokyo Flagship

Givenchy Opens Tokyo Flagship Store

Givenchy Tokyo Flagship

Givenchy has landed in Tokyo with a new flagship, an opening that comes on the back of the brand’s recent debut in Las Vegas, the French brand’s first American store since its New York City flagship closed in 2008.

Located in the ONE Omotesando building, the 392-square-meter space is split over three floors, with its design inspired by the global flagship on rue Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris.

Givenchy Tokyo Flagship Store

The facade features a bald strip of raw natural iron, with elegant aluminum mesh and a golden motif and 11-meter high windows.

Inside series of rooms are made up of black burnt oak (to honor the label’s classic haute couture delivery boxes) with womenswear spaces clad in calacatta marble and the menswear sections in grey basaltina volcanic stone.

Givenchy Tokyo Flagship interior

The store stocks the full Givenchy product lines, including ready-to-wear, handbags, shoes and small accessories.

Givenchy Tokyo Flagship Store photo

To celebrate the Japanese opening the company has also produced a monochrome flower-camouflage print version of the Pandora bag.

The limited edition items come with an engraved serial number on a metal plate to mark the Omotesando debut.

Issey Miyake store Tokyo

Issey Miyake to Open New Concept Store in Toky

Issey Miyake store Tokyo

The Japanese luxury brand has unveiled a menswear counterpart to its Pleats Please line called Homme Plissé as well as a new Reality Lab Tokyo concept store.

Reality Lab Issey Miyake store Tokyo

The Homme Plissé line will feature 10 different styles of pleated pieces, from t-shirts and cardigans to pants. Everything comes in four key colors: light gray, dark gray, blue and black (with a couple of extra accent color options), and the collection is rounded out with some (pleatless) coats and jackets. The pieces range from 12,000 yen ($122) for t-shirts up to 50,000 yen ($507) for outerwear.

Issey Miyake Reality Lab

The Reality Lab concept store, which opened November 11 in Tokyo’s Aoyama district, presents creations by the Reality Lab research team led by Issey Miyake, as well as numerous items from the company’s ranges including the new menswear, the forward-thinking 132 5 line (which includes computer generated prints and recycled plastic pieces), watches and Bao Bao Issey Miyake bags.

Issey Miyake Reality Lab Tokyo

The space, which was designed by Tokujin Yoshioka and combines concrete panels and expanses of primary colors, also features exclusive pieces inspired by a cool paper theme: items include IN-EI origami lamps created with Italian company Artemide and bags with woven paper elements by Tokyo-based designer Mike Abelson.

Issey Miyake Tokyo

Luanda Angola

Luanda beats Tokyo as costliest expat city

Luanda Angola

The Angolan capital Luanda has regained the top spot in an annual survey of the most expensive cities for expatriates, followed by Moscow and Tokyo. The survey by the Mercer consulting group is published annually to help companies assess compensation allowances for expatriate workers.

“Despite being one of Africa’s major oil producers, Angola is a relatively poor country yet expensive for expatriates since imported goods can be costly,” said Barb Marder, a senior partner at Mercer.

“In addition, finding secure living accommodations that meet the standards of expatriates can be challenging and quite costly.”

Moscow’s high costs for rentals and imported goods accounted for its second-place finish, with a luxury unfurnished two-bedroom apartment in Moscow costing $4,600 a month and a cup of coffee $8.29.

Tokyo was the third most-expensive city in the survey, followed by Chad’s capital N’Djamena, Singapore, Hong Kong, Geneva, Zurich, Bern and Sydney.

Park Hotel Tokyo Artist Room Zen

Park Hotel Tokyo completes Artist Room Zen

As part of the Artist in Hotel program, the Park Hotel in Tokyo has handed four of its rooms to four Japanese artists to be transformed into works of art.

Park Hotel Tokyo Room

Art is an important aspect of the philosophy of the Park Hotel located in Shiodome, Tokyo, Japan. The four-star hotel has developed an Art Colors program in order to introduce Japanese culture to visitors. Throughout the year, several exhibitions are planned for the atrium, restaurant and even guestrooms.

calligrapher

Until September 1, visitors will be able to take in the creations of the Yokai Tour exhibition, dedicated to unusual phenomena. They are also invited to spend a night in an actual piece of art. Reservations for the Zen room by artist Seihaku Akiba, have been open since August 1.

The calligrapher, who usually works around the theme of meditation, has just applied the finishing touches to the room as part of the Artist in Hotel program.

Seihaku Akiba

In total, four rooms are destined to be transformed. “Sumo” by Hiroyuki Kimura celebrates famous Japanese wrestlers and has been welcoming visitors since February 2013.

Park Hotel Tokyo Artist Room Zen

As for the other two rooms to be unveiled in November 2013 and February 2014, the names of the artists and the themes have not been revealed yet.

AMPHIBIOUS BUS TOKYO

Amphibious tourist buses put into service in Tokyo

amphibious bus

Tokyo’s first amphibious buses were put into service Sunday, carrying 40 passengers through the city’s low eastern side by road before taking to the Naka river during a 100-minute “Tokyo Splash Tour.”

The two buses, dubbed “Sky Ducks”, departed from Tokyo’s new landmark Skytree, the world’s tallest communications tower at 634 metres (2,080 feet).

The bus moves up to 100 kilometres per hour on the ground and up to 13 kilometres per hour in the water. Tickets are priced at 2,800 yen ($30) for an adult and 1,400 yen ($15) for a child under 12.

Rainbow Bridge

World’s Most Expensive Cities to Live In 2013

Rainbow Bridge

Tokyo and Osaka have topped an index of the world’s most expensive cities to live in for 2013, familiar positions for the Japanese megacities which have traditionally dominated the list prepared bi-annually by The Economist.

The Worldwide Cost of Living report put the Japanese capital at the top of the index after comparing more than 400 prices across 160 products and service such as food, clothing, household supplies, rent, utility and recreational costs.

Since 1992, with the exception of six years, Tokyo has been the world’s most expensive city to live in, toppled only by Zurich, Paris and Oslo. Asian cities dominate the index, with 11 of the world’s priciest cities coming from the east, and eight coming from Europe.

Tokyo’s inauspicious reign on the list, meanwhile, comes despite a fall in the relative cost of living in Tokyo that comes with Japanese deflation, a weaker yen and rising prices elsewhere in the world.

Notably, Australian cities have also risen quickly through the ranks due economic growth, ensuing inflation and currency swings, making them more costly to live in.

Here’s The Economist’s 10 most expensive cities to live in for 2013:

1.      Tokyo, Japan
2.      Osaka, Japan
3.      Sydney, Australia
4.      Oslo, Norway
5.      Melbourne, Australia
6.      Singapore, Singapore
7.      Zurich, Switzerland
8.      Paris, France
9.      Caracas, Venezuela
10.   Geneva, Switzerland

apartment Minami-Azabu Tokyo

World’s most expensive one-bedroom apartment

With an astonishing asking price of US$21.1 million, this Tokyo pad is the most expensive one-room apartment in the world.

apartment Minami-Azabu Tokyo

Dubbed “The House”, the luxury penthouse is located in the most expensive neighbourhood in Tokyo, the Minami-Azabu district.

Featuring 4,434 square feet of living space, the owner spent the past 18 months renovating it to become a live-in masterpiece.

The world's most expensive apartment Tokyo

In the living room is an original art piece by Hiroshi Senju painted on-site. Most of the furniture in the home is custom designed by Ceccotti Collezioni, as well as Italian imported stone and wood used for many of the walls, flooring, and doors.

most expensive 1-bedroom apartment kitchen

The dining room is designed for dinner parties in the special Japanese “Ryotei” syle where the chef can serve guests directly from the gourmet kitchen.

Japanese Ryotei style dining room

There is also a separate casual dining room with the Parisian-style terrace overlooking the peaceful Arisugawa Park. The bright and cheerful eat-in kitchen is fitted with all La Cornue appliances.

most expensive 1-bedroom apartment bedroom

The one and only bedroom boasts an extensively fitted walk-in closet space and an extremely luxurious bathroom with hot tub and a 60 inch television.

most expensive 1-bedroom apartment shoes

Also, from the entrance down the long hallway, the walls open up as a massive shoe storage unit that holds up to 200 pairs of shoes.

walk in wardrobe

The focal point of this amazing home is the courtyard garden. The corridor surrounding it is designed as a lounge space for guests to enjoy the charming seasonal garden. Source: Sotheby’s.

most expensive 1-bedroom apartment courtyard garden

Jiro On sushi

The World’s Best Sushi Chef – VIDEO

Jiro On sushi

A documentary that goes behind the counter and into the life of a man who’s been called the greatest sushi chef in the world is set to open in New York Friday.

Tucked away in an underground Tokyo subway station is an unremarkable-looking 10-seat eatery called Sukiyabashi Jiro which serves Michelin-starred sushi by 85-year-old Jiro Ono, the first chef in Japan to earn three Michelin stars.
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Tokyo Station Hotel

Tokyo Station Hotel

Tokyo Station Hotel

One of Tokyo‘s historic hotels – The Tokyo Station Hotel – will be reopening its doors on 3rd October 2012.

The hotel takes up a large part of the historic red brick building that was originally built in 1914 and has been undergoing a complete renovation since March 2006. The hotel is already accepting reservations for its wedding and function rooms.

Built in an eye-catchingly un-Japanese style, the building embodied Japan’s social and cultural globalization and modernization efforts in the early 20th century.
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Giorgio Armani flagship store Ginza

Giorgio Armani Opens New Wine Bar in Tokyo

Giorgio Armani flagship store Ginza

Giorgio Armani has opened a new wine bar in Tokyo located on the top floor of the Armani Ginza Tower.

Formally a private, member-only bar, the new space is now a wine lounge open to the general public. Over 300 types of Italian wine are available.

Armani hopes to introduce Japanese shoppers to the idea of the Italian aperitivo, by offering wine and small bites on the top floor and a full dinner on the floor below.
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