No Flower, No Cry – The Murakami weeping flower prints

In 2005 as I happily examined my Murakami Skulls Rock print, I noticed an interesting detail. In contrast to the ubiquitous, blissfully happy Murakami flowers, there appeared a crying flower! Apparently a great novelty at the time, but over the years the weeping flower has appeared again and again in the works of Murakami. Various sites, such as the Banksy forum have given this little flower some attention and commentary. Now Sugimoto68 will pop the genie out of the bottle and provide a nigh comprehensive list of all the Murakami prints featuring non-smiling flowers.

2003 jelly fish
Flowers have feelings! (Jelly Fish, 2003)

The first non-smiling flowers appear in Murakami’s 2003 print, Jelly Fish. Different flower expressions appear: sleeping faces and expressions of surprise and wonderment. Jelly Fish marked Murakami’s 22nd offset print release, and he created one of his most whimsical designs to date, a modification of his Oval character inspired by Humpty Dumpty. The flowers’ bored and startled responses contribute to the overall animated quality of the piece. Similarly in the 2004 silkscreen, Flower: The Creatures from Planet 66, Murakami adorns the art with various floral expressions. In addition, Flower: The Creatures from Planet 66 has the FIRST weeping flower in a Murakami print! See page 72 of your copy of I Love Prints and So I Make Them😉

The first OFFSET print to feature the weeping flower is the aforementioned Skulls Rock print (2005). Not devoid of personality, a few of the flowers express their feelings of boredom, astonishment or sadness. Their expressions complement the juxtaposition of death suggested by the skull imagery, and life celebrated by the bird and flowers.

Sleeping flowers return in 2009 with Me and Double Dob, Kaikai Kiki Lots of Fun and Kaikai Kiki News 2. In addition, the 2010 Kansei print series flowers have distressed and astonished looks—but no more tears just yet. The 2010 print Maiden in the Yellow Straw Hat marks the first “pure” flower print with a sleeping flower.

The Warhol flowers-inspired Murakami prints mark the return of the weeping flower after a five-year stint. The collection consists of Warhol/Silver, Flowers for Algernon, Purple Flowers in a Bouquet and Even the Digital Realm has Flowers! The crying flower graces all except for the purple bouquet print.

Murakami Flowers’ cute debut! (2010)

The “classic” weeping flower finally appears in the latter part of 2010 with Such Cute Flowers! Cute Flowers is the first “pure” flower print with a weeping flower. The flower’s exuberance at being so cute brings it to tears! In the follow-up, Flowers Heaven, the joyfully weeping flower also joins a flower sleeping blissfully among the blossoms.

Ultimately, the Murakami flower variants do not appear to convey any type of symbolism or hidden meaning. They simply add an Easter Egg element to the artwork so we may ponder them with the pleasure of little discoveries. Contrary to the Bob Marley inspired Jamaican Patois title, there is no feverent wish for the flowers to stop weeping. Let’s enjoy the hunt and look forward to finding out which expressive flowers we have yet to uncover.

All of the Murakami print expressive flower appearances up until 2013.

2003 Jelly Fish 1st Sleeping/awe  2003_Jelly_fish_sm
2004 Flower: The Creatures from Planet 66 (silkscreen) 1st weeping/various expressions  I Love Prints p 72
2005 Skulls Rock 1st weeping in a Murakami offset print/awe  2005_SkullsRock_sm
2009 Me and Double Dob sleeping  2009_doubledob2_sm
2009 Kaikai Kiki Lots of Fun (silkscreen & offset) in upper left above Kaikai’s right ear sleeping

I Love Prints p 111

2009 Kaikai Kiki News 2 sleeping  2009_NewsB68_sm
2010 All Kansei prints (silkscreen & offset) awe/distress 2010_GoldkanseiB3
2010 Open your hands wide sleeping  openhands_sleep
2010 Such Cute Flowers 1st ‘pure’ weeping  openhands_sleep
2010 Maiden in the Yellow Straw Hat sleeping  2010_Maiden_Hat3
2010 Warhol Flower Series weeping WarholFlowersset
2010 Flowers Heaven weeping/sleeping  2010_Heaven_weep
2010 Field of Smiling Flowers weeping/sleeping  2010 FlowSmile
2011 Flowers 1 & Flowers 2 weeping/various  2011_flower1&2
2011 Poka Poka weeping/various  Poka Poka! (2011)
2011 Campsite weeping/various  2011 Campsite
2011 Ponkotan weeping  2011 Ponko
2012 Monopink A weeping  2012_r1_monopinka68cry
2013 Flowers Blossoming in This World & the Land of Nirvana 1  weeping  2013_Nirvana1
2013 Flowers Blossoming in This World & the Land of Nirvana 3  weeping  2013_Nirvana3

Revised 2018/3/9 to correctly identify Such Cute Flowers as the first ‘pure’ weeping flower print. The previous version misidentified Flowers Heaven as the first ‘pure’ weeping flower print.