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  • “When I was younger, I wasn’t going to galleries, I wasn’t going to museums … There was a lot of ‘this is fine art’ or ‘this is not fine art’; ‘this is commercial’, ‘this is high art’. In my mind I thought, art’s purpose is to communicate and reach people. Whichever outlet that’s being done through is the right one.” —KAWS

     

    Since the late 1990s, KAWS has transformed iconic characters such as the Stormtroopers, the elite space marines of the Galactic Empire in the Star Wars franchise, into witty amalgamations of themselves on a variety of works - canvases, sculptures, toys and in the street. These mash-ups have formed the hallmark of his practice as he explores the notion of mass consumption in modern day’s society and the elevation of popular culture imagery within the discourse of contemporary art.

     

    Executed in 2000, UNTITLED (STORMTROOPERS) is an early seminal work of KAWS, featuring his most recognisable artistic elements. One Stormtrooper’s face is covered with the distinctive flat cartoon-like mask formed from a piratical skull and crossed bones, each eye socket crossed out with an X, symbols that have been consistently present in KAWS’s work over the years. The other two Stormtroopers are wrapped in the embrace of a coiling snake-like creature, reminiscent of his iconographic interventions on streetside advertisements at the start of his career. His purposeful interpenetration, instead of simple superimposition, harmoniously interweaves modification with original form.

     

    Drawing inspiration from the ethos of Andy Warhol’s Do-It-Yourself series of half-completed and handmade, paint-by-number canvases based on their mass-produced counterparts, KAWS uses mixed media to produce witty and brash imagery as a unique play of his trademark aesthetic and motifs.

     

    UNTITLED (STORMTROOPER) comes to market as a rare and important early example of the rich multi-layered artistic discourse of KAWS’s work, where his unapologetic cultural commentary resonates with contemporary audiences. Currently honoured with a career-spanning retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum in New York, KAWS is undeniably one of the most important artists in the art world today.

     

    KAWS Graffiti
    Installation view of KAWS: Companionship in the Age of Loneliness at National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 20 September 2019 – 13 April 2020.
    Photo © Tom Ross. Image courtesy of National Gallery of Victoria.

     [1] David Villorente and Todd James, Mascots & Mugs: The Characters and Cartoons of Subway Graffiti, Interview with KAWS, New York, 2007, p. 284

    • Provenance

      Private Collection, Tokyo
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Literature

      Monica Ramirez-Montagut, KAWS 1993-2010, New York, 2010, p. 12 (illustrated)

    • Artist Biography

      KAWS

      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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Property from an Important Japanese Private Collection

133

UNTITLED (STORMTROOPER)

signed and dated 'KAWS.. 2000..' on the reverse
acrylic on photo laid on canvas
70 x 100 cm. (27 1/2 x 39 3/8 in.)
Executed in 2000.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
HK$1,600,000 - 2,600,000 
€169,000-275,000
$205,000-333,000

Sold for HK$6,300,000

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Associate Specialist, Head of Day Sale
[email protected]

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

Hong Kong Auction 7 June 2021