KAWS - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction Hong Kong Sunday, June 6, 2021 | Phillips

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  • The PACKAGE PAINTINGS were my way of getting my imagery onto canvas. I had been painting nearly all my life, but not with these forms on this material. After making them, I dropped the packaging and began to paint on larger canvases.” —KAWS

    The PACKAGE PAINTINGS marked a pivotal point in KAWS’s career as it signaled his move from street art and design into the world of fine art, catapulting his work to worldwide fame.


    KAWS purposefully opted not to invent new symbols in his art, feeling that modern society was already inundated with a blitz of imagery. Instead, he chose to rework established, universally-recognised emblems. Drawing inspiration from Pop Artists such Andy Warhol who appropriated mass culture imagery (most notoriously Coca-Cola bottles and Campbell soup cans) and Roy Lichtenstein, whose work emulated the artistic style of comic book illustrations, KAWS skilfully utilized the public’s familiarity with popular visual culture to convey his artistic message.


    KAWS encased his canvas, featuring his take on The Simpsons’ Krusty the Clown modified with the signature ‘X’ eyes, in a blister pack together with triangular cutout for hanging merchandise on pegboards, and affixed it to a cardstock backing with modified character silhouettes derived from his trademark skulls and crossbones. The character is depicted in a freeze-action vignette, reminiscent of animation cells. By presenting his painted canvas in the same commercial packaging format used by toy manufacturers, KAWS bridged the opposing worlds of commerce and fine art by merging their incongruent materials. [1]


    Andy Warhol Coca Cola
    Andy Warhol, Green Coca-Cola Bottles, 1962
    Collection of Whitney Museum of American Art
    © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

     [1] Andrea Karnes, “Pop in the Expanded Field”, WHERE THE END STARTS, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, 2016, pp. 46-47

    • Provenance

      Elms Lesters Painting Rooms, London
      Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2001

    • 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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Lot offered with No Reserve


signed and dated 'KAWS.. 01' on the reverse of the canvas
acrylic on canvas in blister package
canvas 40.8 x 40.8 cm. (16 1/8 x 16 1/8 in.)
overall 58 x 47 x 7 cm. (22 7/8 x 18 1/2 x 2 3/4 in.)

Executed in 2001.

Full Cataloguing

HK$800,000 - 1,200,000 

Sold for HK$1,890,000

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Associate Specialist, Head of Day Sale

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in Association with Poly Auction

Hong Kong Auction 7 June 2021