KAWS - New Now New York Wednesday, September 28, 2022 | Phillips

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  • Painted in 2012, GONE AND BEYOND A-2 is a prime example of KAWS’ Pop-inspired practice that reinvigorates appropriated cartoon imagery in a fine art context. Belonging to an eponymous series of 27 tondo compositions begun in 2010, the present work presents a radically cropped perspective of one of the artist’s most iconic motifs, KAWSBOB. GONE AND BEYOND A-2 was created for and first featured in KAWS’ 2012 survey at the High Museum in Atlanta—the largest exhibition for the artist at that time. 

    Installation view of the present work (Atlanta, High Museum of Art, KAWS: DOWN TIME, February 18–July 29, 2012). Artwork: © KAWS 

    The Renaissance of the Contemporary Tondo

    "I just liked it. I had all these sculptural forms that were bulbous and round and I liked that it is never ending, there’s no corner, there’s no edge to it. And it gave me this play that the rectilinear canvases didn’t."
    In dramatic juxtaposition to the Renaissance style of tondo portraiture, frequently portraying religious imagery of Madonna, KAWS’ tondos feature similarly ubiquitous characters within contemporary media. In referencing iconic cartoon characters such as the Simpsons and SpongeBob, KAWS borrows the likeness of these figures and de-contextualizes their forms.  Inaugurated in 2008, KAWSBOB has emerged as one of KAWS’ favorite characters in his lexicon of mass media figures. KAWS’ choice of bright colors, animated imagery paired with a tilted and cropped perspective, highlights the influence graffiti and illustration has on his practice. As curator Michael Rooks observes, “by alluding to the imagery of such low-minded sources as comics and cartoons, KAWS bridges the divide between the common, every day.”i


    Tom Wesselmann, Mouth 7, 1966. Image: Tracey Whitefoot / Alamy Stock Photo, Artwork: © 2022 Estate of Tom Wesselmann / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York  

    Exemplifying KAWS’ myriad references to the methods of Pop art, most notably Tom Wesselmann’s Mouth series. Mouth 7, 1966, showcases the titular body part enlarged and engaged in an action or emotion unbeknownst to the viewer. KAWS at once appropriates his Pop art predecessors and establishes a new vocabulary that reflects the younger “generations who grew up in the era of cable television."ii GONE AND BEYOND A-2 manifests the dynamic interplay between representation and abstraction that permeates KAWS’ practice, firmly rooted in art history.
    "For me it’s not abstract. I know where this image is coming from. I know every line where it is coming from. So I can’t not see that when I am forming an image. But yeah somebody walking into the room may not know that and it’s not important for them to understand the narrative to the [works]." —KAWS

    i KAWS: DOWN TIME, exh. cat., High Museum of Art, Atlanta, 2012, p. 17.
    ii Ibid, 16.

    • Provenance

      Honor Fraser Gallery, Los Angeles
      Private Collection (acquired from the above in 2012)
      Perrotin, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Atlanta, High Museum of Art, KAWS: DOWN TIME, February 18–July 29, 2012, pp. 22–24, 26, 110 (illustrated, p. 22; installation view illustrated, p. 26)

    • Literature

      Joe Pagetta, “KAWS: DOWN TIME at the High Museum of Art Atlanta,” Nashville Arts Magazine, May 2012, p. 68 (High Museum of Art, Atlanta, 2012 installation view illustrated)

    • 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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signed and dated "KAWS..12" on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
diameter 40 in. (101.6 cm)
Painted in 2012.

Full Cataloguing

$120,000 - 180,000 

Sold for $107,100

Contact Specialist

Avery Semjen
Head of Sale, New Now
212 940 1207

New Now

New York Auction 28 September 2022