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  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present two lots exemplify New York-based artist KAWS’s continuously vibrant incorporations of diverse commercial and artistic references in pursuit of portraying relatable emotion. Inspired by animation DVDs in the early part of his career, KAWS would watch cartoons and pause them periodically to take close-up screenshots of characters, their caricatures on visceral display. These two paintings, executed in 2014, epitomize the artist’s complex creative process that then followed. Combining a range of visual elements drawn from characters including SpongeBob SquarePants, the Smurfs, and a doughy Michelin Man, KAWS reworks recognizable imagery to fit his own abstract depictions of tangible expressions like excitement and surprise. At once theatrical and minimal, KAWS’s vivid colors in the present lots are enclosed in geometrically graphic curves and straight lines, adding power to enlarged realizations of human emotion. In lot 320, rendered with sensational chromatic breadth, a soft hand gently touches the artist’s signature “X” eye, whereas in the more closely cropped lot 321, a striking red tongue bends over a deep brown mouth as if in dramatic motion. With symbolic weight, KAWS pieces together these real, physical attributes to animate newly crafted personalities. In a 2016 interview, KAWS explained the drive behind this process: “I do start with familiar things, and that’s primarily to make the work more approachable for people – it’s an entry point” (KAWS, quoted in Leslie Murrell and Christopher Howard, eds., Where the End Starts: KAWS, exh. cat., Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, 2017, p. 80).

  • 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.  

    View More Works

321

Untitled

signed and dated "KAWS..14" on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
35 1/4 x 23 in. (89.5 x 58.4 cm.)
Painted in 2014.

Estimate
$120,000 - 180,000 

Sold for $175,000

Contact Specialist
Rebekah Bowling
Head of Day Sale, Afternoon Session
New York
+ 1 212 940 1250
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session

New York Auction 16 May 2018