Tadanori Yokoo. “Who?“, hoots back my (usually) reliable, ask-me-anything-about-art source. It’s not a name that rolls off the tongue for many as easily as Andy Warhol, but much like the late American pop artist, Tadanori Yokoo holds nothing short of a rock-star’s status in his homeland of Japan.
He too began attracting a cult following in the 1960s with his psychedelic pop art posters, largely inspired by his extensive travels in India. His unique style went on to majorly influence the psychedelic movement in the United States at the time and even today, graphic designers all over the internet are experimenting with Yokoo’s style. We might not have known his name until now but his art has appeared on album covers and concert posters for some of the most legendary names in music history, including The Beatles, Miles Davis, Santana, Earth, Wind & Fire and more.
Above, Yokoo’s concert posters commissioned by the Beatles.
As you browse through his diverse body of work, you might find yourself asking for explanations and translations and meanings and all that stuff, but his art is perhaps best described by the acclaimed 20th century Japanese author, Yukio Mishima, who in 1968 had this to say of his fellow countryman:
“Tadanori Yokoo’s works reveal all of the unbearable things which we Japanese have inside ourselves and they make people angry and frightened. He makes explosions with the frightening resemblance which lies between the vulgarity of billboards advertising variety shows during festivals at the shrine devoted to the war dead and the red containers of Coca Cola in American Pop Art, things which are in us but which we do not want to see.”
So there’s my rediscovered artist of the day thanks to the internet!
You can have a piece of Yokoo’s world on your coffee table with The Complete Posters of Tadanori Yokoo available on amazon, or browse his online shop. And if you’re interested in getting your hands on something a little more rare, original prints and posters of his can sometimes be snagged on eBay.