“Made in Japan, Tadanori Yokoo, Having Reached a Climax at the Age of 29, I Was Dead”

This work, titled “Made in Japan, Tadanori Yokoo, Having Reached a Climax at the Age of 29, I Was Dead,” was created by Yokoo for Matsuya Ginza department store’s group exhibition, “Persona,” in 1965. This poster marked Yokoo’s breakthrough into recognition and popularity as a graphic designer in Japan, and one who would come to be hailed by all as a father of Pop Art–as well as a synthesis of myriad other art movements, in the East.

The content depicted in the poster is personally relevant to Yokoo’s life and career, and creates a poignant message regarding modern Japanese society and fine art at the time of its creation. The most prominent aspect of the poster is a hanged man in a suit, who holds a rose and dangles from a noose at the center of the symmetrically balanced composition. This hanged man is meant to represent Yokoo himself, evident by the artist’s name which has been sprawled above the noose in an arced fashion, somewhat reminiscent of the Art Nouveau style. Behind the hanged figure of Yokoo, and taking up the majority of the space of the poster, a motif of a red rising sun affront a blue background radiates across the space. The stark contrast between the blue and the red in this motif, accentuated by Yokoo’s technique of silkscreening, which vividly saturated the ink colors, begins to create color vibrations in viewers’ eyes, making the poster difficult to look at while simultaneously drawing one’s attention towards it. The rising sun motif appears twice more in this poster: once in each of the bottom corners, contained each time within an outlined box. At bottom left, a photograph of Yokoo as an infant has been cut and pasted atop the rising sun. Ornately posterized numbers have been pasted atop Yokoo’s photo, reading “1 ½,” a reference to the artist’s age at the time of the photo. At bottom right, another childhood photo of Yokoo is collaged atop the rising sun motif, this time of the artist as a young boy in a class picture, himself blending seamlessly in with all of his uniformed companions. Slapped over this photograph is a graphic symbol of a hand forming an obscene Japanese gesture related to sex.

All of the aspects of this poster combined create a deeply personal message from Yokoo. He seems to pour himself out into this work, melding his life experiences and wry humor to convey a narrative which demands attention. The subtle sexual undertone implied by the use of the word “climax” and the obscene hand gesture serves to lighten the work, while at the same time giving it a sort of biting edge. This poster was intended as a commentary on the stifling nature of Japanese society on artists, and it meant, for Yokoo, a certain metamorphosis of the self. He expresses a metaphorical suicide, one from which he is reborn as a true artist, ready to take on the career he has now fully prepared for.


***excluding references, this post fits within the word limit at 500 words***


  • Lynam, Ian. “The Album Design of Yokoo Tadanori.” Red Bull Music Academy Daily, 8 June 2015, daily.redbullmusicacademy.com/2015/06/yokoo-tadanori-album-design.
  • “Tadanori Yokoo | Having Reached a Climax Athe the Age of 29, I Was Dead (1965) | Available for Sale.” Artsy, www.artsy.net/artwork/tadanori-yokoo-having-reached-a-climax-athe-the-age-of-29-i-was-dead.
  • “Tadanori Yokoo – Having Reached a Climax at the Age of 29, I Was Dead.” Museum Für Gestaltung EGuide, www.eguide.ch/en/objekt/tadanori-yokoo-having-reached-a-climax-at-the-age-of-29-i-was-dead/.