KAWS - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session New York Thursday, May 10, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Honor Fraser Gallery, Los Angeles
    Private Collection

  • Catalogue Essay

    In abstractly translating commercially cherished characters, or in directly imprinting them with his mark, KAWS creates his own distinct cartoon universe, filled with characters that are at once familiar, and arresting in their heightened portrayal of human emotion. This effect is uniquely evident in the present lot where the artist depicts the face of Charlie Brown in black and white. Describing his interest in the cartoon’s creator Charles M. Schulz, KAWS states “I’m into Schulz as an artist, a company, an icon; I got into his stuff just because I liked the looseness of the line work, and I thought that it was just sort of a nice thing to bring into my paintings” (KAWS, quoted in Steff Yotka, “Inside KAWS’s Studio With the Artist—And His Snoopy for Uniqlo Toys”, Vogue, April 27, 2017, online). The present painting is distinctly emblematic of this motivation for KAWS to infuse his strokes with Schulz’s designs, while also maintaining gestural strength and tonal solidity in bold black line. With Charlie Brown as a vehicle to express the iconic joy of American cartoon culture, the present lot interprets the tradition of Pop Art on a singularly contemporary scale.

  • 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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Untitled (MBFH4)

signed and dated "KAWS..14" on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
58 1/8 x 48 in. (147.6 x 121.9 cm.)
Painted in 2014.

$100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for $137,500

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

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session

New York Auction 16 May 2018