Tokyo exhibition showcases 139 portraits of Tadanori Yokoo

Tokyo’s futuristic-looking 21_21 Design Sight in Roppongi Entertainment District features a special exhibition of 139 portraits of famous people drawn by artist Tadanori Yokoo.

“Yokoo Tadanori: The Artists” features artists, philosophers, scientists and others associated with the organizer, the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art, from around the world.

Founded in Paris in 1984, the foundation has a collection of more than 2,000 pieces created by 500 artists from 50 countries.

Hervé Chandes, who is general manager, recalled that when he visited Yokoo’s workshop and told the graphic designer that he was preparing for the organization’s 30th anniversary in 2014, Yokoo was only too impatient to join in the celebration.

The artist came up with the idea of ​​drawing portraits of people linked to the foundation, which Chandes found “fantastic”.

Each portrait is drawn on a canvas measuring 33 centimeters by 24 cm.

Portraits include contemporary modern artist Christian Boltanski and French director Agnes Varda, American rock musicians Lou Reed and Patti Smith, as well as Takashi Murakami, Takeshi Kitano, Issey Miyake, Rinko Kawauchi and other Japanese artists.

None of the portraits share the same color combinations and composition, which Chandes says reflects Yokoo’s artistic prowess. He added that the artist has a knack for drawing the special movement he felt in his mind when he saw pictures of them.

Yokoo said the portraits were based on photographs.

He also said he drew at least two for some of the portraits because he was not happy with his first attempts.

“I didn’t know how to draw (director) David Lynch well, so I went to see his autobiographical film,” the artist revealed.

The exhibition, which is being held in cooperation with the Asahi Shimbun, runs until October 17. The place is closed on Tuesday.

Free entry.

For more information, visit the official website at (

(This article was written by Wakato Onishi, senior editor, and Takumi Ono.)

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