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Famous for his long-running manga, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Hirohiko Araki has had panels and artwork from the series featured in Western institutions of high art (including the Louvre) and in high fashion collaborations (with Gucci). Manga is the Japanese equivalent to comics and, as such, it is a medium generally regarded as mass-produced entertainment. The inclusion of Araki’s work within such esteemed circles, then, brings the very definition of artistic value into question. Due to the sequential imagery, narrative component, and sales-based nature of graphic literature, which might ordinarily mitigate against its regard as art, its history within museums and canonization within the art world is complex. The appeal of Araki to the Louvre is not entirely dissimilar to that of Gucci, even though the expense of designer brands’ products tends toward exclusivity rather than museums’ inclusivity. While both seek aesthetic beauty, the likes of which Araki invokes with his classical style, museums and luxury brands are more deeply intertwined with the luster of value with which they both imbue the objects they present. Artists, then, can be seen as instruments mobilized by museums and retail brands alike to enhance their own prestige. This project will explore the ways in which Araki’s work, already produced commercially through a mass-market form of publishing, has been created in limited editions both to serve the interests of art museums and galleries, as well as retailers of high end fashion. Through this analysis the research will shed light on the tight relationship between art and art world institutions on the one hand, and purveyors of fashion commodities on the other. Keywords: Art commodification, Gucci, Hirohiko Araki, artistic value, manga in museums



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Hirohiko Araki’s Fashionably Exhibited Artwork