Since the 1990s, when Japanese art went Pop, Yoshitomo Nara’s images of children and animals have infiltrated the world to the degree that it’s difficult to picture contemporary art without them.

Chronicle Books’s new “catalog raisonné” of Nara’s work—two 408-page volumes—is an extensive archive. We tried to get an interview with Nara to talk about it, but it was impossible by deadline. Then we tried to excerpt one of the volume’s essays, like Nara’s own introduction discussing his creative process, but there were copyright problems.

Below are a few interesting critiques, interviews, and videos about Nara’s work.

All photos in the slideshow are from Yoshitomo Nara: The Complete Works, by Yoshitomo Nara, published by Chronicle Books, 2011. All images © the artist, all rights reserved.

From a Nara profile from Japanorama:

I do paintings because I can’t express myself well in words. I try now and then, but after I speak about it, I always regret the following day that it was wrongly put.


From a Nara interview in Slamxhype:

I think it is better to be respected by what and who I like rather than by the market. In Asia you have to make your work more accessible and be able to reach the Asian market—they like my work but do not always have access to it. In Asia, they appreciate the art, they love to see art, but they do not always want to buy art. It is more of a cultural thing as apposed to a market. I feel I am one of the Asian artists who can make that happen and make that change of accessibility.

From the Asia Society’s “Nobody’s Fool” exhibit:

When asked about his frequent depiction of dogs, Nara has remarked that their submissive obedience reminds him, sadly, of children.

From art 21’s Max Weintraub:

The exhibition suggests that the general tenor of Nara’s characters—defiant yet with an almost apocalyptic sense of isolation and angst—has its roots in the artist’s own solitary childhood, a time when he found solace in similarly minded rock and punk music.

From Yoshitomo Nara: No Room for Doubting:

The vital thing is that you do what you want to do.


Rosecrans Baldwin co-founded TMN with publisher Andrew Womack in 1999. His latest book is Everything Now: Lessons From the City-State of Los Angeles. More information can be found at More by Rosecrans Baldwin