KAWS, ‘Untitled’, 2009, Phillips

Property of an Important American Collector

From the Catalogue:
KAWS reimagines one of the most absorbing personalities in contemporary culture to create Untitled featuring KAWSBOB. Rendered exclusively in enthralling matte red tones, Untitled exemplifies the artist’s position within the historical continuum that began with Pop Art, straddling the line between fine art and commerce. Stripped of his typically cheery yellow hue, the indefatigable character who is known for his hyperactivity, eagerness to please and dogged optimism becomes the subject of archetypical KAWS interventions to reflect the artist’s signature crossed-out eyes and abstraction. Though KAWSBOB retains the highly expressive bulging eyes, protruding nose and two buck teeth indexical to the adored cartoon character, the portrait is zoomed in, bluntly cropped and strangely removed from the undersea context of the popular children’s television series.

Having grown from the culture of downtown Manhattan in the 1990s, KAWS’s cartoonish style is rooted in the artist’s early career who would mediate public advertisements with his own seamlessly brushstroke-free additions. These interventionist artworks were so skilfully executed that it was difficult to distinguish the artist’s work from the original advertisement, a perfectionist mentality still evident in KAWS’s work today. In response to conventional distinctions between high versus low art, KAWS explains, “to me they involve the same thought process, so it’s funny that when I work big in bronze, it’s called a sculpture, but something I do that’s small and plastic is called a toy.” (KAWS quoted in Carlo McCormick, "From the Streets to TV to Fine Art Galleries, KAWS Is Everywhere," Paper, November 4, 2013) Though his current work channels the bright colours, commercialist attitudes, and refined graphic languages of Pop Artists Claes Oldenburg, Tom Wesselmann, and more recently, Takashi Murakami, KAWS has married the legacy of Pop Art with his own legendary re-appropriation of contemporary culture icons, an aesthetic that has amassed widespread appeal from viewers worldwide.
Courtesy of Phillips

Signature: signed and dated 'KAWS 09' on the reverse

Galerie Perrotin, Paris
Private Collection
Phillips, New York, 6 March 2014, Lot 3
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

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