65
65
Yoshitomo Nara
CUP KIDS
Estimate
1,500,0002,000,000
JUMP TO LOT
65
Yoshitomo Nara
CUP KIDS
Estimate
1,500,0002,000,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York

Yoshitomo Nara
B. 1959
CUP KIDS
acrylic, lacquer, and cotton on fibre-reinforced plastic, in seven parts
each: 40 x 36 x 36 in. 101.6 x 91.4 x 91.4 cm.
Executed in 1995.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Blum & Poe, Los Angeles
Acquired by the present owner from the above in 1997

Exhibited

Nagoya, Museum of Contemporary Art, Cup Kids, 1995
Nagoya, Gallery Hakutosha, Cup Kids, 1996
Santa Monica, Blum & Poe, Yoshitomo Nara, May - June 1997
Milwaukee, Institute of Visual Arts, Yoshitomo Nara, September - November 1998
Santa Monica, Santa Monica Museum of Art, Lullaby Supermarket, March - May 2000
Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art, Public Offerings, April - July 2001

Literature

Exh. Cat., Yokohama, Yokohama Museum of Art (and travelling), Nara Yoshitomo: I Don't Mind, If You Forget Me, 2001, pl. 39, p. 132, illustrated in color (in installation at Lullaby Supermarket)
Manfred Rothenberger, ed., Yoshitomo Nara, Lullaby Supermarket, Munich, 2002, p. 136, illustrated in color (in installation), pp. 12, 32, 76, 137, 176 and 191, illustrated in color (detail) and pp. 12, 76 and 146 (text)
Yoshitomo Nara, Yoshitomo Nara: The Complete WorksVol. 1, Tokyo, 2011, no. S-1995-005, p. 259, illustrated in color

Catalogue Note

A seminal, widely exhibited work from the artist’s early output, Yoshitomo Nara’s dreamlike sculptural installation Cup Kids from 1995 is an enchanting study into the surreal depths of the subconscious—a flawlessly finished, irresistibly adorable, and overwhelmingly charming work of art that enraptures our imagination in a fashion that is archetypal Nara. The ensemble of seven squat conical bodies each stand alone in oversized teacups and saucers, possessing oversized heads that bear protruding ears and the trademark features of Nara’s faces. Each figure is topped by an identical hairstyle that ranges in color between yellow, red, orange, and brown. Furthermore, each Cup Kid maintains a unique expression: “The Cup Kids seem to be caught between dreaming and waking, imprisoned in their hemisphere, their mini-pool. They may have open eyes, but they do not see each other. They cannot submerge into their little seas and it seems even less possible that they could ever leave their deep puddle of powerlessness. Still, a possibility for communication is suggested, a communication that could take place between the observer and the individual Cup Kids: the handle-ears that look like the result of an evil transformation spell that took the handles from the cups and magically put them on the children’s heads (assuming, of course, that it is a middle European coffee cup and not a Japanese coffee cup.” (Manfred Rothenberger, ed., Yoshitomo Nara, Lullaby Supermarket, Munich, 2002, p. 12) At once impelling feelings of both isolation and togetherness, Nara’s Cup Kids are suspended in a tableau of hilarity and ennui for eternity; while their arrangement is suggestive of a dreamlike realm, their exaggerated facial expressions humorously recall a quotidian boredom that is characteristically human and droll. Therein lies the whimsical juxtaposition that is quintessential of Yoshitomo Nara’s oeuvre.

With over twenty exhibitions across the globe in the last three years alone, Nara’s popularity has no doubt far surpassed many Japanese contemporary artists working today. Initially recognized as part of the Neo-Pop movement along with Takashi Murakami during the 1990s, for over two decades, the iconic images of cute yet devilish girls and sleepy-eyed dogs produced by the artist have become an indisputable pillar in the paradigm of Japanese contemporary art. While loneliness and music are often cited as a source of inspiration behind the creation of these rebellious children, a compelling part of his work is sentimentally devoted to the free spirit of youth and a rejection of reality. Born in Hirosaki, a city in the Aomori Prefecture hours away from Tokyo, Yoshitomo Nara obtained his Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts from the Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music, before attending Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in Germany in 1988. Though he was frequently associated with Takashi Murakami and the Superflat movement in the 1990s, the artist has continually emphasized the importance of individual experience and personal sentiments in his artistic practice rather than strictly following art historical theories. As he commented in an interview in 2012, “Overseas, everyone started to read the work within the context of Murakami’s Superflat theory. In a way, they can be explained with that, so that’s fine, but for me they were much more personal. All the children and animals depicted came from inside me, not from a theory.” (Edan Corkill, “Yoshitomo Nara Puts the Heart Back in Art”, The Japan Times, 2012)  This articulation of the artist’s own emotional disposition has not only contributed to the immense popularity of the iconic solitary child, but also created a unique resonance with the masses. Cup Kids, a rare major sculpture by the iconic artist, sees him at his best, inspiring wonderment in every viewer that is immersed in its mischievous grip.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York