KAWS, ‘Companion (Grey)’, 2007, Heritage Auctions
KAWS, ‘Companion (Grey)’, 2007, Heritage Auctions
KAWS, ‘Companion (Grey)’, 2007, Heritage Auctions
KAWS, ‘Companion (Grey)’, 2007, Heritage Auctions
KAWS, ‘Companion (Grey)’, 2007, Heritage Auctions

This work is accompanied by a hologram certificate from Medicom Toy. Four Foot Companion is of KAWS's signature style, a soft skull and crossbones with X-ed-out eyes and a cartoonish body. "I was interested in that image 'cause it was limitless in terms of translation: anywhere, in any country, it's still a skull. You can't really get more universal than that. But a skull is usually associated with death, so I tried to make it as friendly and approachable as possible." KAWS's first toy, also called Companion, was released in 1999 as a thank you from Japanese clothing company, realmadHECTIC. KAWS had painted the brand's new store, and in return, they offered to produce his first edition. It was then that KAWS decided that he would "take down" the most iconic cartoon, Mickey Mouse, whose characteristics are prevalent throughout the artist's work. A majority of KAWS's work is familiar to its viewer as it draws inspiration from recognizable pop culture characters such as Pinocchio, The Simpsons and SpongeBob. The relatability combined with the slight disruptions he makes to alter his characters' personalities, has made his work skyrocket in popularity. The consistency and repetition found in KAWS's work also draws similarities to Pop Art and artists such as Andy Warhol and Keith Haring. KAWS was born Brian Donnelly in 1974. He grew up in New Jersey and was influenced by skateboarding culture in New York City. On the weekends, he took the PATH to the Brooklyn Banks and Tompkins Square Park to skateboard. While studying at the School of Visual Arts in the early '90s, a friend and fellow artist, Barry McGee showed him how to open bus stop advertisements. KAWS would take them out, bring them back to his studio to tag and then return them to their place. It was here that the public first saw his skull with crossbones and crossed out eyes. "I did not know much about writing, I just knew that I liked to write my name everywhere I could in my neighborhood. At that time I knew nothing about the world of graff that was happening in New York. I just knew the few names I saw around my area. Later on, around '91, I started getting into bombing on a more serious level, trying to cover large areas of Jersey and Manhattan, especially East Village and SoHo." –Courtesy of Heritage Auction

Condition Reports: This work is contained in the original box; one scuff approximately 2 x 1 inches to the back right shoulder; scuffs to the bottom of the feet.

Signature: Stamped to the underside of the right foot: ©KAWS..07

Image rights: Courtesy of Heritage Auctions

Toy One Company, Hong Kong; Private collection, Asia; Private collection; Christie's Hong Kong, March 23, 2017, lot 27; Private collection, California.

About KAWS

“KAWS” is a graffiti artist, illustrator, painter, sculptor, product designer, and toymaker. His cartoonish style—including his best-known characters with X-ed out eyes—has its roots in his early career as a street artist, when he began replacing advertisements with his own, masterful acrylic paintings in the early 1990s. Since, KAWS has embraced the commercialist spirit of Claes Oldenburg and Takashi Murakami, designing everything from Kanye West album covers to Nike sneakers. Avoiding the distinction between products and art objects, KAWS has shown his work increasingly in galleries and museums over the past decade; some of his most famous images are reimagined versions of pop characters like Mickey Mouse and the Michelin Man.

American, b. 1974, Jersey City, New Jersey, based in Brooklyn, New York