• Denholm Hewlett

[Art/Culture] Tadanori Yokoo

A legendary Japanese artist, graphic designer, illustrator, painter and printmaker renown for his dynamic pop-art posters of the counterculture era. The original master of Japanese psychedelia and among the most innovative & influential artists of his generation.



Born in 1936, Nishiwaki, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan, Tadanori Yokoo is one of Japan’s most famous and beloved artists. He began his painting in 1966 while simultaneously experimenting with screen printing, his early works combine elements of photography, collage and pop-art, while incorporating tons of unique imagery and visual influences from cultures across the globe.



A truly revolutionary figure in the history of Japanese art, Tadanori Yokoo is widely regarded to be one the greatest avant-garde Japanese artists alive and working today. Yokoo's playful and dazzling visual style is widely accredited with having established the vibrant iconic psychedelia aesthetic that became so ubiquitous throughout the late sixties & seventies in USA.



His unparalleled body of work has made a long lasting impact on modern pop culture, having designed album artwork and poster designs for a plethora of prolific musicians including; The Beatles, Cat Stevens, Miles Davis, Carlos Santana, and Haruomi Hosono.



Tadanori Yokoo’s dynamic screen printed textile posters are immensely stylised idiosyncratic combinations of painting, collage, photography and illustration - blending elements of contemporary Japanese culture with surrealism, eroticism, dadaism, mysticism, American pop culture, Russian constructivism and traditional Japanese woodblock prints - Ukiyo-e.



His early posters were an explosive fusion of the traditional and futuristic which helped bring a new cultural vision for post-war Japan, garnering him acclaim and controversy as a designer in Tokyo’s Avant Garde Experimental art scene. Yokoo's distinctive visual style soon became widespread in the Western world and later became synonymous with the counterculture era.



As an artist, Tadanori Yokoo was continuously experimenting and pushing the boundaries of creative expression and managed to revolutionise the concept of the advertising poster forever by conveying deeply personal, socio political artistic statements within the work and bridging the cultural divide between what is considered to be "fine art" and "commercial work".



Tadanori Yokoo currently lives and works in Tokyo and has worked primarily as a painter since the 1980's and has continued to hold solo exhibitions every year in Japan and abroad. The 84 year old master artisan is far from finished, as his creative flame continues to burn brighter than ever before.



Check out this gallery of our favourite Tadanori work below ~



Among his many creative influences, Yokoo has credited the cinema of Akira Kurosawa and the writings of Yukio Mishima as two of his major formative influences. Yokoo has also collaborated extensively with new wave Japanese director Shuji Terayama and his theatre Tenjo Sajiki. He starred as the protagonist in Nagisa Oshima's film "Diary of a Shinjuku Thief" (1968). Tadanori Yokoo also made a series of short experimental 16mm animated films during the sixties, including "KISS KISS KISS" (1964) & Kachi Kachi Yama (1965). You can view both of these videos below.



If you enjoyed Tadanori's Work then we highly recommend picking up a copy of his recent art book “The complete Posters of Tadanori Yokoo”.



- Psychic Garden

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