Untitled (MBFM8)

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  • Provenance

    Perrotin, New York
    Private Collection
    Private Collection, Los Angeles

  • Catalogue Essay

    ‘KAWS is not just referring to pop culture, he is making it’
    - Michael Auping, ‘America’s Cartoon Mind’ in: Exh. Cat., Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Where the End Starts, 2017, p. 63.

    A remarkable example of KAWS’s highly graphic and cartoon-infused oeuvre, the present work juxtaposes cropped and rearranged images of Snoopy, Charlie Brown’s mischievous pet beagle in Charles Schulz’s infamous Peanuts universe, forming a vibrant blue on black composition. At once instantly recognisable and stylistically unique, Untitled (MBFM8) coalesces a number of visual references that impressed upon the artist throughout his career, namely contemporary imagery, avant-garde Pop iconography brought forth by the likes of Claes Oldenburg and Tom Wesselmann, and KAWS’s very own early experimentations with graffiti. A veritable cultural cornerstone, the American artist has expanded an iconic visual language –both socially aware and self-referential– that now pervades the inner circles of the art world and popular culture alike.

    With the present work, KAWS’s formulation of a familiar iconographic sign in near-abstract terms challenges the traditional codes of both painting and popular culture. ‘What’s abstraction to somebody that knows something?’ the artist mused, ‘If you look at something but then you know what it is, is it still abstraction? You just start looking at the gestures and how they work and thinking about the history of painting and how it can relate to that’ (KAWS, in conversation with Senay Kenfe, ‘KAWS on "MAN'S BEST FRIEND" at Honor Fraser’, The Hundreds, 16 September 2014, online). A somewhat arcane figure until the early 1990s, KAWS subsequently became a key figure in contemporary discourse, unveiling the politics of mass consumption through the creation of a falsely innocent pictorial world. In truncating Snoopy’s body and ‘X-ing’ out his eyes, the artist extends this practice of subversion, challenging the immediacy with which we assume cultural references, and destabilising the valence of iconographic permanence.

    KAWS’s formal language thus balances between ‘high’ and ‘low’ art, operating within the two discrete worlds of creation and commerce. As expressed by the artist himself: ‘In the 1990s, it was put to me that you got to be commercial or you can be a fine artist. […] And now I feel like a lot of those barriers have been knocked down’ (KAWS cited in ‘Finding Narrative in Abstraction’, COBO SOCIAL, 9 April 2018). KAWS’s Untitled (MBFM8) successfully dissolves these barriers, imbuing Snoopy’s seemingly innocuous character with sardonic gravitas.

  • Artist Bio

    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

7

KAWS

Untitled (MBFM8)

signed and dated 'KAWS. 15' on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
122 x 122 cm (48 x 48 in.)
Executed in 2015.

Estimate
£150,000 - 250,000 

sold for £175,000

Contact Specialist
Simon Tovey
Head of Sale
+44 20 7318 4084

New Now

London Auction 5 December 2018