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  • Provenance

    Galerie Perrotin, Paris
    Christie's, New York, 1 March 2018, lot 258
    Private Collection, Korea
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Paris, Galerie Perrotin, KAWS: Imaginary Friends, 3 November - 22 December 2012
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, KAWS @ PAFA, 12 October 2013 - 5 January 2014

  • Catalogue Essay

    KAWS is one of the most iconic and prolific artists of our generation. An artist, collector, designer and entrepreneur with a multi-disciplinary artistic practice incorporating painting, sculpture and printmaking, his multi-faceted identity reflects the fluid nature of art, technology and contemporary popular culture.

    Over the years KAWS has created a unique visual language spanning Pop Art, abstract painting, art history and popular culture. His innate understanding of the emotional and intellectual force of images is reflected in the range of inspiration he draws from art history as well as popular culture – for example Bauhaus artist Josef Alber’s experimental abstract works exploring colour interaction and the dynamic schematic compositions of Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein (see for example Modern Painting With Small Bolt, 1967), who also used cartoons as a starting point for his works.

    KAWS also cites the Swedish-American sculptor Claes Oldenburg as one of his favorite artists (KAWS quoted in an interview with The Inquirer, April 11, 2013, online). Like Oldenburg, KAWS established his name creating monumental works based on everyday consumer objects, elevating the banal to the extraordinary. Whilst Oldenburg used telephones, hamburgers, and cake slices, in HALF FULL KAWS draws inspiration from children’s animations, deconstructing familiar outlines and placing the abruptly disconnected elements into saturated, staccato compositions that pulsate with mutinous energy. A dismembered cartoon arm clings to an eye marked with KAWS’s trademark ‘X’, whilst a blood-red paw clutches at a face beneath the shadow of a cartoon figure striding into view.

    Originally exhibited alongside a second painting, HALF EMPTY, KAWS draws upon a common proverbial phrase that conveys the subjectivity inherent to any situation, where pessimism and optimism are equally likely outcomes depending on individual worldviews and personal biases. Placed together, these works represent the two halves of an intensely-coloured, multi-dimensional reality: two ‘X’ eyes, a mouth open in a scream, falling debris, a choice to react with blue-like calmness (HALF FULL) or red-like defensiveness (HALF EMPTY).

    HALF FULL demonstrates an instinctive understanding of the power of symbols in a world continuously in flux:

    “Icons like Mickey, the Simpsons, the Michelin Man and Spongebob exist in a universal way that you forget their origin or even there [sic] narrative, and you just recognize them from the slightest glimpse of their image or sound.”
    (KAWS, quoted in conversation with K. Donoghue, Whitewall, December 2012).

    KAWS’s creations, universally recognised amongst this generation, belong to the same pantheon of iconic characters. KAWS’s work captures the shifting boundaries between the real and virtual, the personal and public, and he continues to work deliberately to reject the air of exclusivity surrounding art, synthesizing elements of high and low culture across all areas of his work. His most recent solo exhibitions include KAWS: WHERE THE END STARTS at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (Texas) and the Yuz Museum (Shanghai).

  • Artist Biography


    American • 1974

    KAWS (b. 1974, Jersey City, New Jersey; lives and works in Brooklyn, New York) is renowned for his prolific body of work that straddles the worlds of art and design to include paintings, murals, graphic and product design, street art, and large-scale sculptures. Over the last two decades KAWS has built a successful career with work that consistently shows his formal agility as an artist, as well as his underlying wit, irreverence, and affection for our times. His refined graphic language revitalizes figuration with both big, bold gestures and playful intricacies.  

    KAWS often appropriates and draws inspiration from pop culture animations, forming a unique artistic vocabulary across mediums. Admired for his larger-than-life sculptures and hardedge paintings that emphasize line and color, KAWS’s cast of hybrid cartoon characters are the strongest examples of his exploration of humanity. As seen in his collaborations with global brands, the artist’s imagery possesses a sophisticated humor and reveals a thoughtful interplay with consumer products. With their broad appeal, KAWS’s artworks are highly sought-after by collectors inside and outside of the art world, establishing him as a uniquely prominent artist and influence in today’s culture.  

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signed and dated 'KAWS..12' on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
304.8 x 243.8 cm. (120 x 95 7/8 in.)
Painted in 2012.

HK$5,500,000 - 7,500,000 

Sold for HK$10,950,000

Contact Specialist

Isaure de Viel Castel
Head of Department, 20th Century & Contemporary Art

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 26 May 2019