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Takashi Murakami

News from New York: Crumbs for Zwirner while Murakami pulls out all stops for Gagosian Exhibition

But the Japanese artist keeps French billionaire François Pinault waiting for his 13-panel painting

Takashi is fashionably late

While the luxury goods mogul François Pinault was left waiting for Takashi Murakami to finish a 13-panel installation due to go on display on 5 May at the collector’s private museum in the Palazzo Grassi in Venice (a spokeswoman says it will go on view “at a later date”), the Japanese artist pulled out all the stops for his solo show with über-dealer Larry Gagosian. “Tranquillity of the Heart Torment of the Flesh—Open Wide the Eye of the Heart, and Nothing Is Invisible” at the Gagosian Gallery on Madison Avenue (until 9 June) is the Japanese artist’s first show with Gagosian since defecting from Marianne Boesky Gallery last June, and features his ­characteristic smiling flowers as well as a series of massive paintings of Daruma, the founder of Zen Buddhism (above). According to the gallery, all 65 works, ranging in price from $100,000 to $1.6m, have sold. Festivities to ­celebrate the exhibition began with two days of Japanese tea ceremonies performed by tea­master Sen So-oku, flown in from Japan to conduct the event. Murakami’s own ceramics collection was used in the ceremony including a $100,000 bowl by the early 20th-­century ceramicist Kitaoji Rosanjin, while guests ranged from Guggenheim director Lisa Dennison to rapper and art lover Kanye West—who is ­scheduled to perform at Murakami’s much ­anticipated retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles opening in October. (Murakami returns the favour by serving as art director for West’s upcoming album.) With all the tea parties and openings filling his schedule, perhaps Mr Pinault can forgive the artist for taking so long to finish his commission.

Imitation is the insincerest form of flattery

The controversial “Bodies” exhibition at the South Street Seaport, with cadavers supplied by Dr Sui Hongjin, a former employee of Dr Gunther von Hagens, has reached its one ­millionth visitor. The show opened in November 2005 and has been extended indefinitely due to popular demand. For a mere $26.50 visitors can view 22 polymer-preserved bodies stripped of their skin as well as 260 organs, many of which have been ravaged by diseases. Popular with school groups and tourists, it was no surprise to learn that the lucky one millionth visitor turned out to be a Swedish flight attendant. To celebrate the momentous occasion, the Swede was presented with several gifts including a lifetime pass to visit any of the eight “Bodies”­exhibitions worldwide (if one display of flayed cadavers isn’t enough for her) and a trip for two to Las Vegas. Organised by Atlanta-based Premier Exhibitions, the show is a copycat of Dr von Hagens’ “Body Worlds”, which uses similar preservation techniques. The frosty relationship between Dr van Hagens and Dr Hongjin has resulted in copyright lawsuits and general ­mud-slinging, ­providing controversy which merely fuels ­ticket sales to the rival shows.

Crumb: a love of rears and del Rio

It wasn’t your typical Chelsea crowd at the opening of David Zwirner’s latest show of drawings by the cult comic book artist R. Crumb (until 16 June). The perpetually unhappy, publicity-shy Crumb has been documenting American culture for more than 40 years and says he draws to keep himself sane. Nothing is off-limits for Crumb whose largely autobiographical drawings focus on everything from sex to race. His ­obsession with large-bottomed women with muscular legs is legendary and a wall is devoted to his depictions these Amazons. Among them is a portrait of 70s Latina porn star Vanessa del Rio (top) for whom Crumb (below) has a ­particular fondness. Her autobiography is being published by Taschen in October and the $1,000 collector’s edition comes with a signed Crumb lithograph of del Rio.

Schrager’s swanky art club

Hotelier Ian Schrager’s newest venture, the Gramercy Park Hotel, is already a favourite with art aficionados, who can view works by Warhol, Basquiat and Schnabel in the lobby. Now Schrager has opened an art-filled roof garden and private club atop the hotel where according to the developer “one can view art the way it is supposed to be viewed, in a casual setting that was previously only available for a selected few”. The space currently has four works by Damien Hirst and seven Warhols but there are plans to hold exhibitions of art from private collections put on by guest curators, the first of whom will be Schrager’s business partner, über-collector Aby Rosen, who has already lent a number of works to the hotel. The club is currently only open to hotel guests and membership for non-residents starting later this year will be by invitation only. But there is good news for those who can’t afford the $395-$2,750 per night pricetag; when asked if he would let the average starving artist stay for free, Mr Schrager laughed and said: “I suppose I would. I’ve always had a special connection with artists.”

A plaster of Paris Hilton

Weighing in on the debate surrounding socialite Paris Hilton’s jail sentence for driving with a ­suspended license, artist Daniel Edwards says: “I think she should go to jail, I’ve had friends who have gone to prison for a similar offence.” After Hilton’s arrest, the sculptor changed his plans to create a portrait bust of Paris and has depicted the hotel heiress (and pet chihuahua) sprawled out on a coroner’s table, naked but for a tiara and cell phone. The Paris Hilton Autopsy, on view last month at Capla Kesting Fine Art in Brooklyn, is part of Edwards’ public service announcement warning teenagers against drink driving. Flotsam has learned that the Hilton sculpture will be on view at the upcoming Bridge Art Fair in London in October, along with another publicity generating piece by Edwards, Monument to Pro-Life, which features Britney Spears giving birth on a bearskin rug. Meanwhile, equally eye-popping sculptures of supermodel Kate Moss by the British artist Marc Quinn are on view at Mary Boone Gallery (until 30 June). The show contains seven contorted portraits of Moss; all of the works, ranging in price from $200,000 to $300,000, have sold according to the gallery.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Murakami pulls out all the stops for Gagosian'