The decisive influence of Japan upon the development of contemporary culture needs little recounting. Western artists, from Manet and Monet forward, have adapted design principles found in Japanese prints to create compositions of increasing flatness and abstraction. The philosophy of Zen Buddhism has influenced a range of practices in Western painting, music, and dance since the mid-twentieth century. In recent decades, Japanese consumer products--from electronics to automobiles--have profoundly affected societies worldwide, while the products of Japanese popular culture--anime and manga in particular--have found an international audience. In his work and unique practice, Takashi Murakami seemingly picks out and reconfigures the disparate threads of Japanese influence that have been woven into the fabric of international culture over the last one hundred-plus years. If only for this reason, Murakami has swiftly risen to the position of one of the most influential and acclaimed artists to emerge from Asia in the postwar era. Murakami is now a distinct "brand"; his career is marked by extraordinary levels of ambition and achievement, and his work offers a brilliant and unique synthesis of the personal and the commercial. Trained in the school of nihonga--traditional Japanese-style painting--Murakami has created works that bridge that tradition and the worlds of contemporary art, design, animation, fashion, and popular culture. Extending the trajectory of production by artists such as Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons, his oeuvre not only includes painting, sculpture, installation, and animation, but also a wide range of collectibles, multiples, and commercial products. Murakami expands the role of the artist well beyond its traditional boundaries--Western or Japanese. In conjunction with heading his international corporation Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd., which has three locations in Japan and New York, he continues to incorporate a vast range of activities, taking on the responsibilities of curator, entrepreneur, publisher, lecturer, events coordinator, and manager. The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), has been privileged to host Murakami on several previous occasions. In 2001, the influential "Superflat," a Murakami-organized exhibition of work by young Japanese artists, inaugurated MOCA's Pacific Design Center gallery. That same year, his work was featured in "Public Offerings," organized by Chief Curator Paul Schimmel. In 2004, Aya Takano, an artist managed by Murakami who also participated in "Superflat," launched The world after 800,000,000 years for MOCA's online digital gallery. Most recently, in 2005, Murakami's DOB in the Strange Forest and Super Nova (both 1999) were on display at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA as a part of "Ecstasy: In and About Altered States," also organized by Schimmel. MOCA's ongoing relationship with Murakami culminates in "© Murakami," the artist's largest survey exhibition to date, including over ninety works from his extensive oeuvre, a broad range of Kaikai Kiki merchandise, and a fully operational Louis Vuitton boutique featuring new designs by the artist as an integral element of the exhibition. "© Murakami" continues the museum's longstanding dedication to the organization and presentation of exhibitions by exceptional and challenging mid-career artists, including Douglas Gordon, Rodney Graham, Barbara Kruger, Gabriel Orozco, Charles Ray, and Christopher Wool. This exhibition would not have been possible without the tremendous vision of Paul Schimmel, whose own passion and excitement for Murakami's work has fueled their ongoing relationship over the years. Schimmel, who gained Murakami's attention with his landmark 1992 show "Helter Skelter: L.A. Art in the 1990s" at MOCA, has been pivotal in creating a basis for understanding the artist's work in Los Angeles through exhibitions such as "Public Offerings" and "Ecstasy." Working closely with the artist with the assistance of Mika Yoshitake, project coordinator, and Yuko Sakata, executive director of Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd., Schimmel has tailored an outstanding exhibition that will present Murakami's work in its full breadth to American and European audiences. Exhibitions like "© Murakami," unusual for art museums in their scale, ambition, and complexity, rely upon the most devoted and visionary supporters for their realization. I wish to express my unending gratitude to MOCA's extraordinary Board of Trustees, led by Chair Clifford J. Einstein, President Dallas Price-Van Breda, and Vice Chair Michael Sandler, for their commitment, with special thanks to Audrey Irmas through the Sydney Irmas Exhibition Endowment, William and Maria Bell, Dallas Price-Van Breda, and Tom and Janet Unterman for their particular support. I am deeply grateful to exhibition sponsors Blum & Poe, Steven and Alexandra Cohen, Kathi and Gary Cypres, Gagosian Gallery, Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, The Norton Family Foundation, Marianne Boesky, David Teiger, The MOCA Contemporaries, The Japan Foundation, and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation. My most profound gratitude goes to Takashi Murakami for his revelatory and transformative work, his commitment to MOCA, and his tireless dedication to this exhibition. His energy and the amazing efforts of Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd., have brought this exhibition to the highest level.