The title of fashion’s favorite artist is competitive. KAWS’ extensive streetwear pedigree and recent Dior collaboration make him a strong contender. As is Basquiat, who still influences both street and runway. But, considering our current cultural paradigm, where we obsessively mix high and low aesthetics, the answer is clear: Takashi Murakami. Despite critics deriding him as a sell-out—claiming that the artist tones down his provocative designs in exchange for commercial success—Murakami effectively eliminates the line between pop culture and high-art. His signature oeuvre, aptly titled Neo-Pop, parodies postwar Japanese consumer culture by restructuring and sampling various themes and characters within the art world. Through the creation of his Superflat theory, Murakami seamlessly and cleverly merges Japan’s history with popular culture. However, while his designs are coveted for their bold eye-candy aesthetic, Murakami’s work is often overlooked as a critique of Japan’s embrace of the Western world.

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