Why Kanye West and Kim Kardashian Are Hanging Out With Takashi Murakami

Can Kanye can do for the contemporary art world what he’s done for fashion and design?

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Nov 28 2018, 6:54pm

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West took a much-criticized private Boeing 747 flight to Tokyo this week, where they met with Japanese contemporary artist Takashi Murakami and dropped to the floor to strike a pose in front of one of his artworks.

This isn’t the first Murakami x Kardashian-West Instagram collaboration. Last month, Murakami posted an ode to Kanye and Lil Pump’s oversized couch look in their “I Love It” video, writing on Instagram, “It’s like you’re being served a raw, contemporary human being, delivered straight to you via YouTube, iTunes and Spotify. I felt as though I was served a fresh platter of ego sashimi.” Now the ego sashimi is being served up live at Murakami’s studio, raising the question of whether Kanye is looking to stretch himself beyond his current music/fashion/design/“thought leader” responsibilities and plunge headfirst into the world of contemporary art.

Kanye has already established something of an artistic footprint online recently, tweeting out praise for Chicago artist Kerry James Marshall, DMing with conceptual artist Ryder Ripps, and announcing plans to teach at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (a claim the institute gently rebutted). Kanye also commissioned a painting of the Kardashians by 23-year-old London-based artist Shadi Al-Atallah for his last single cover, and released his own sketches on Instagram.

Now that Kanye has revolutionized the music and fashion worlds, is a bona fide foray into visual art up next? He’s been in and around the art world forever—attending art school, referring to Matthew Barney as his “Jesus”—but something about the recent escalation of Kanye’s art world shoutouts and in-person hangs suggests we might be blessed with his artistic debut in the not-too-distant future. When Kanye takes something on, he revolutionizes it—whether it’s the fashion industry, the music industry, or interior design—so if he does indulge his pure artistic side (by, say, opening a gallery where Al-Atallah and Murakami can be displayed side by side), it’s safe to bet that the cognoscenti will side-eye it for approximately ten seconds, then devote itself to trying to recreate its success.