KAWS - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale Hong Kong Sunday, November 24, 2019 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Provenance

    Mary Boone Gallery, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Cartoons are a genre no longer confined to the realm of children’s entertainment. Its ability to relate to all ages and remain timeless throughout history and contemporary culture is often overlooked. American artist KAWS, taps into this medium by parodying characters from popular cartoons with his distinct artistic aesthetic. The artist draws from the comforting familiarity associated with popular cartoon characters, but also abstracts and reworks them with warped perspectives and frenzied outlines to elicit complex emotional responses from his viewers.

    With ‘X’s for eyes that conventionally represent death in cartoon culture, the present lot shows KAWS utilising his signature motif onto a familiar comic strip beagle character. Well-known for his clean visual imagery, KAWS’s lack of visible brushstrokes and use of a minimalist monochrome palette maintain a graphic quality to the work— stripping the figurative into an abstract surface that directly confronts its viewers. The viewer recognises the lovable beagle character, but its crossed-out eyes and agitated lines assign an entirely new personality to the original cartoon. The repetitive effect from the multiplication of the figure conveys a sense of insecurity— as if the character is attempting to assert its presence by echoing itself.

    Using accessible characters as his main subjects, KAWS opens up the realm of art not only to art critics and intellectuals, but also to a mass audience through popular culture.

  • 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.  

    View More Works



signed and dated 'KAWS..15' on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
188.5 x 154 cm. (74 1/4 x 60 5/8 in.)
Painted in 2015.

HK$2,500,000 - 3,500,000 

Sold for HK$2,375,000

Contact Specialist
Danielle So
Associate Specialist, Head of Day Sale

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 25 November 2019