Born in Tokyo in 1947, Beat Takeshi Kitano entered show business in 1974 as Beat Takeshi, a stage name he continues to use as a performer. Beat Takeshi’s distinctive speaking style and idiosyncratic perspective made him one of Japan’s most popular entertainers of the 1980s. Of the numerous shows presented by this prolific iconoclast, the most internationally renowned is Takeshi’s Castle in which contestants participated in a series of trials. Currently, Beat Takeshi Kitano presents eight programmes a week, with topics ranging from politics to mathematics. Beat Takeshi has appeared in his own films as well as numerous others. He garnered international acclaim for his role in Nagisa Oshima’s ‘Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence’ in 1982. His acting career also includes international films such as Robert Longo’s ‘Johnny Mnemonic’ (1995) and Jean-Pierre Limosin’s ‘Tokyo Eyes’ (1997). In 1997, Kitano’s directorial achievement was truly acknowledged when his film ‘Hana-bi’ was awarded the Golden lion Award at the Venice International Film Festival.
Allegedly, when he was asked to do the exhibition by Fondation Cartier, it made him feel like a mountain climber who has been asked to climb Mt. Everest without a supply of oxygen. He likes the painting and the work of Renaissance painters like Leonardo da Vinci, not just a painter but also a scientist. What he admires about them is that, throughout their lives, they didn’t confine themselves to one path or define themselves by a single interest, they were incredibly versatile. He likes being on the outside looking in. According to him, watching people, knowing how to observe them, is the most valuable skill a comedian can have.
This exhibition reveals Beat as a visual artist.
Irrepressibly curious, passionate about the acquisition and passing on of knowledge, he adroitly switches genres and idioms, moving from violence to comedy, from over-the-top performances to deeply restrained ones. While this insatiable artist finds inspiration everywhere, two leitmotifs occur frequently in his work: his fascination and nostalgia for childhood, and his relationship with the image, which is fundamental to his creative approach.
Beat Takeshi Kitano subverts the very idea of an exhibition.
He has transformed the museum into an amusement park in which all the worlds of Beat Takeshi Kitano take centre stage. Popular culture and scientific inquiry, the imaginary and the satirical, tradition and education, the beautiful and the kitsch, all co-exist in a setting that is at once diverse and cohesive. Meandering along a path studded with bizarre images, interactive workshops, gags and games, visitors enter a universe as joyful as it is rich and complex. Populated by imaginary animals amidst an array of inventions, sideshows and musings, Beat Takeshi Kitano’s exhibition is like a gigantic self-portrait, an expression of his dreams, ideas, and fantasies both as a child and an adult. The autobiographical nature of the exhibition is demonstrated through references to his childhood and hints to events in his life and even his name, which appears on objects and within the exhibition decor. There’s even a stand in the garden where visitors can buy and savor Kitano’s waffles. Usually shaped like a fish, here the traditional Japanese waffle is transformed into a Buddha. Located on the lower level, this large, bright stand was inspired by the fairground booths seen in Asakusa, a working-class neighborhood where Kitano spent a great deal of his childhood during the 1950s.
This first exhibition of Beat Takeshi Kitano is one of the most ambitious projects ever created for the Fondation Cartier. It is designed for children, but speaks to adults. With ‘Gosse de peintre’, Beat Takeshi Kitano takes children seriously and invites them to think, to dream and most importantly, to join the show.

March 11th – September 12th, 2010

Very popular in Japan, these lucky charms are named after the founder of Zen, Bodhidharma, who, having meditated for nine years while facing a wall,saw his legs and arms atrophy. Conventionally, these Japanese figurines are red and their eyes remain unpainted, allowing those who buy the charms first to make a wish while painting the left eye and once the wish is granted, finish by painting the right eye.


Beat Takeshi Kitano, Fondation Cartier,