KAWS - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session New York Thursday, June 24, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Offered concurrently with the artist's first major New York survey at the Brooklyn Museum, KAWS: WHAT PARTY, an expansive exhibition showcasing more than 100 works made over his 25-year career, KAWS’ Untitled, 2013 is a monumental example of the artist’s idiosyncratic brand of Pop Art that bridges the worlds of art, popular culture and commerce.


    KAWS’ Iconic Imagery


    A quintessential example of his re-envisioned pop culture icons, KAWS’ Untitled, 2013 illustrates the inflated facial details of KAWSBOB, an intervention on the animated cartoon SpongeBob, imbued with the artist’s distinctive style. Through a build-up of pigment, KAWS is able to create evenly matte colors emulating that of an airbrush, an approach that can be recognized as an homage to his early days as a graffiti artist. His use of bold, blocks of color flattens the work, creating little differentiation between the foreground and background, while his application of pigment in tandem with the fragmented, mosaic-like, portions of the character conveys a distinctive sense of abstraction. As such, the piece demands active engagement to re-associate the represented features of the work with the character it represents.


    KAWS @PAFA, installation view, 2013. Image courtesy of PAFA

    KAWS’ Dialogue with History


    Untitled, 2013 is also notable for the artist’s use of a circular shaped canvas, or tondo, a format the artist continues to explore in his practice today. The tondo’s Renaissance associations are particularly poignant here as the work was included in the artist’s solo exhibition in 2013 at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA), a historical landmark in Philadelphia. The KAWS @ PAFA exhibition juxtaposed the institution’s collection of 19th-century American art with KAWS’ playful pop-art creations. Respectful and aware of the historical importance of the venue and the tradition it represents, KAWS created a dialogue between the traditional narrative techniques of the oil paintings in the museum’s historic galleries and his fragmented, colorful cartoon imagery, resulting in a direct and visceral impact. Simultaneously paying homage to and mocking the established, formal tenets of art history, Untitled, 2013 is supremely representative of KAWS’ original mission to create universal content that encourages all to interact with and relate to his work.

    • Provenance

      Galerie Perrotin, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, KAWS @ PAFA, October 12, 2013–January 5, 2014

    • 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

Property from an Important Collection

Ο ◆377


signed and dated "KAWS..13" on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
diameter 96 in. (243.8 cm)
Painted in 2013.

Full Cataloguing

$450,000 - 700,000 

Sold for $604,800

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 24 June 2021