KAWS - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale Hong Kong Saturday, May 25, 2019 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Private Collection, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, KAWS @ PAFA, 12 October 2013 - 5 January 2014 (another example exhibited)

  • Catalogue Essay

    “I’ve been doing bronze sculptures where I auto-body-paint them different colours. Those materials are traditional. They are within the history of fine art.” KAWS, Interview Magazine, 27 April 2010, online.

    Rendered in a sophisticated grey-scale palette, BORN TO BEND features the artist’s beloved and iconic “BENDY” character with its signature X eyes, the protruding crossbones as ears and squiggly tail wrapped around a stark silhouette of the quintessential American childhood icon “Gumby”. BORN TO BEND perfectly demonstrates how KAWS re-contextualises the role of mass culture in art, based as it is on the BENDY character that initially took the form of small-scale figurines starting in 2003. What began as toy versions radically expanded in the past decade to become different sized works of sculpture, deliberately aimed at dismantling the distinctions between high and low art. As KAWS explained, speaking of his strategy of blurring the lines between toys and sculptures, “to me they involve the same thought process, so it’s funny that when I work in big bronze, it’s called a sculpture, but something I do that’s small and plastic is called a toy” (KAWS, quoted in Carlo McCormick, “From the Streets to TV to Fine Art Galleries, KAWS Is Everywhere”, Paper, 4 November 2013, online.) One of the artist’s most recognisable figures, another version of BORN TO BEND was a key highlight that adorned the main entrance of the historic landmark building of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) in 2013 and was shown at the artist’s first UK solo exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 2016, as well as KAWS: WHERE THE END STARTS at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth the same year. Expressing the unique duality that encapsulates the allure of KAWS’s work, BORN TO BEND stimulates a sense of nostalgia and delight.

  • Artist Biography


    American • 1974

    To understand the work of KAWS is to understand his roots in the skateboard and graffiti crews of New York City. Brian Donnelly chose KAWS as his moniker to tag city streets beginning in the 1990s, and quickly became a celebrated standout in the scene. Having swapped spray paint for explorations in fine art spanning sculpture, painting and collage, KAWS has maintained a fascination with classic cartoons, including Garfield, SpongeBob SquarePants and The Simpsons, and reconfigured familiar subjects into a world of fantasy. 

    Perhaps he is most known for his larger-than-life fiberglass sculptures that supplant the body of Mickey Mouse onto KAWS' own imagined creatures, often with 'x'-ed out eyes or ultra-animated features. However, KAWS also works frequently in neon and vivid paint, adding animation and depth to contemporary paintings filled with approachable imagination. There is mass appeal to KAWS, who exhibits globally and most frequently in Asia, Europe and the United States.  

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signed, numbered and dated 'KAWS.. 13 9/10' on the underside
painted bronze
41.9 x 27.3 x 15.2 cm. (16 1/2 x 10 3/4 x 5 7/8 in.)
Executed in 2013, this work is number 9 from an edition of 10.

HK$800,000 - 1,200,000 

Sold for HK$1,250,000

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

Charlotte Raybaud
Head of Day Sale, 20th Century & Contemporary Art

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 26 May 2019