Nova Southeastern University’s (NSU) NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale and The Consulate-General of Japan in Miami will present “Japanese Kaiju Toys and Contemporary Art,” an online lecture that will premiere on the art museum’s YouTube channel on Thursday, July 9, at 6:00 p.m. The lecture is free and open to the public. Viewers are welcome to register here.
James B. Levy, a professor at the university’s Shepard Broad College of Law and a longtime collector of Japanese kaiju toys, will host the virtual presentation and explore the history and cultural impact of the kaiju. Kaiju, or “strange creatures,” are giant monster-like characters that have transcended Japanese culture to become popular among science fiction fans, artists, scholars, and folklore lovers around the globe. The lecture will also delve into how these colorful collectibles have changed how many define art and how art is collected.
First depicted during the 1960s in Japanese television shows, these giant monsters were usually shown battling superheroes trying to save cities from destruction. Their quick rise in popularity prompted Japanese companies to produce an array of soft vinyl toys based on the characters. Decades later, these kaiju collectibles were rediscovered by collectors including influential artists, musicians, designers, and writers who were attracted to their fanciful, creative designs and wild, psychedelic colors. The colorful collectibles are responsible for spurring the urban vinyl collector movement, which has been embraced by artists like KAWS, FriendsWithYou, Kenny Scharf, Yoshimoto Nara, and Takashi Murakami. Some of these artists are currently being featured in NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale’s Happy! exhibition, recently extended through August 30.