Tadanori Yokoo

Japanese (Nishiwaki, Japan, 1936)

Electrified by Pop art and American graphic design, Tadanori Yokoo has always delighted in the violation of visual taboos. Mixing traditional Japanese pictorial methods with Western representational motifs, Yokoo — an illustrator, graphic designer, printmaker, and painter — forges visual relationships among images originally rooted in seemingly disparate worlds.

Yokoo began his career by replicating paintings, designing wrapping paper, and drawing posters for a local Chamber of Commerce. His first major work was a self-titled poster created in 1965 for the Matsuya department store's Persona exhibition. In a style that anticipates San Francisco's psychedelic poster art of the late 1960's, Yokoo depicted an imagined scene from his own funeral. The work's references to Japan include Mount Fuji, the bullet train, and the rising-sun motif — an emblem of the Japanese Empire that would become an essential element in Yokoo's repertoire of images.

In the 1970s, inspired by a trip to India, Yokoo incorporated Buddhist iconography into album covers for the Beatles, Carlos Santana, and Cat Stevens. Yokoo later became known for his science-fiction posters and projects for gangster-film director Ken Takakura.


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