Tadanori Yokoo’s designs are the result of an effortless combination of eclectic visual motifs from across time and borders. In this poster for Kanox, a Japanese production company involved with television, film radio, stage and commercial advertising, Yokoo juxtaposes classical architecture from an Italian Renaissance villa with a surrealist galaxy filled with brightly colored celestial bodies. Though the poster’s subject doesn’t immediately seem relevant to the business of production, the composition alludes to the innovative and inventive nature of Kanox. Following in the tradition of ukiyo-e woodblock prints, which blurred the line between artistic contemplation and functional purposes, Yokoo’s designs represent both cherished art objects and innovative commercial advertisements.
When creating a new design, Yokoo used photographs as the foundation and then drew from elements of traditional Japanese woodcuts and contemporary Pop art. After traveling through India in the 1970s, Yokoo became more interested in mysticism and psychedelic art, and incorporated these influences into his work as well.
Yokoo was born in Nishiwaki, Japan in 1936. His humble dreams of working at a post office and painting were quickly surpassed due to the growing success of his poster that was shown at the Persona group’s joint exhibition in 1965. Throughout the 1960s, Yokoo was involved in the Japanese avant-garde scene and created designs for a number of dance and theater companies as well as for musicians such as the Beatles, Carlos Santana and Cat Stevens, among others. Since designing that first seminal poster in 1965, Yokoo’s work has appeared in at least one exhibition every year.