1988. Departs for Germany. He passes the admission exam to the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and enrolls as a student in September.

1990 Nara’s experiences in getting to know other international students and their cultures at the dormitory where they lived becomes a formative experience for the rest of his life.

A local indie band, The Birdy Num Nums, commissions Nara to create their album cover. Pandora’s Box becomes the jacket art for their album, Mannaka Over The World.

1991. Transfers to German artist A. R. Penck’s class. Nara is inspired by Penck, who suggests that he “paints on the canvas as if he is drawing.” Striving for expression directed at himself and not at other people, Nara creates the painting Girl with a Knife in Her Hand. This piece determines his style moving forward.

1998. Commissioned by Naoko Yamano, from the Japanese female trio band Shōnen Knife, Nara creates drawings for their album Happy Hour.

Solo exhibition at the Institute of Visual Arts, University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee (USA). This becomes Nara’s first solo exhibition at an art museum.

1999. Magazine House publishes a picture book, The Lonesome Puppy, illustrated by Nara.

2000. Nara takes part in SUPER FLAT, an exhibition that tours Japan and the USA, based on the concept of artist Takashi Murakami’s Superflat Manifesto. Nara goes back to Japan in August, ending a 12 year stay in Germany. 130 drawings by Nara are added to the collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York.

Studio at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, 1989
© Yoshitomo Nara, courtesy Yoshitomo Nara Foundation