Yoshitomo Nara is a leading global contemporary artist whose practice first came to the fore in the context of Japan's influential Pop art movement. He is best known for sculptures, drawing, and paintings of cute children and animals that on closer inspection appear menacing. The style of his artwork is often associated with popular culture, from manga and anime to the graphics on music album covers, but it equally engages with Japanese visual traditions and Western Modernism.
Nara was born in 1959 in Hirosaki, a rural town in northern Japan. It was at school taking a figure drawing class that he first became interested in art. From 1979 to 1981, he took art classes at the Musashino Art University. He then went on to study at the Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music in Nagakute, Japan, earning his BFA in 1985 and his MFA in 1987. He subsequently moved to Germany, graduating in 1993 from the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and setting up his studio in Köln. After serving as a Guest Professor for a graduate course in painting at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1998, Nara returned to Tokyo from Germany in 2000.