by Chris MaGee
The name Keiichi Tanaami may not ring bells with Japanese film fans, but art enthusiasts will recognize Tanaami immediately as one of Japan's most influential pop artists. Born in 1936 Tanaami studied design at Musashino Art University and eventually found himself working at the prestigious Hakuhodo ad agency, but life in the ad game didn't satisfy him. It was in the late 60's that Tanaami relocated to New York City, and it was here his artwork began to take shape. Much of Tanaami's artistic development was helped along by his involvement with Andy Warhol and his famous Factory, as well as Tanaami's ingestion of liberal doses of LSD. Since then Tanaami's art has been defined by its cartoonish, psychedelic imagery that fits in nicely with other pop artists of the same period like Tadanori Yokoo and Peter Max.
Tanaami didn't just limit his creative vision to two-dimensional work though, and now Paris-based publisher and film distributor c-a-r-t-e blanche has put together Tanaami's 14 short films in a truly impressive DVD set titled “A Portrait of Keiichi Tanaami”. Not only does the set include such films as 1975's "Sweet Friday", 2002's "A Gaze in Summer 126.96.36.199" and 2005's "The Harmonic Gleam Vibration", but it also includes a 116-page book with a special introduction to Tanaami's work that was written by the late Shuji Terayama.
You can order "A Portrait of Keiichi Tanaami” from either France or from Japan. Before you rack up your credit card check out clips from the set in the YouTube trailer below.