Lot 7
  • 7


2,200,000 - 2,800,000 HKD
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  • KAWS
  • Untitled (Painting and Doll)
  • Canvas: inscribed Yellow 1786 on a tape attached to the back of overlap, circa 2001.  
    Doll: produced by realmadHectic in 2001.
  • acrylic on canvas and plush doll


Acquired directly from the artist


Monica Ramirez-Montagut, KAWS 1993-2010, Skira Rizzoli, New York, 2010, p. 14, the doll illustrated
NIGO®Atelier by NIGO®, Casa Brutus, Tokyo, 2012, pp. 122-123 (detail), illustrated


The work is in very good condition. A thin rubbing mark, measuring 9cm, in the white composition near the right edge. A few handling marks on the left and right stretcher sides. Slight dust accretion on the doll.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note


Influenced by the world of graffiti, KAWS gained popular recognition through his unique intervention on billboards and advertising posters: he was careful not to overpower the original image with his own artistic gestures, resulting in a sort of hybrid that enhances the branding power of both the original image and his own. In addition, the artist’s experience in working at an animation studio after graduation informed his appropriation of iconic characters such as Mickey Mouse and Astro Boy. The current lot is exemplary of the artist’s unique visual vocabulary: take inspiration from a well-known cartoon character, Miffy, and superimpose on it his signature design of a soft and somewhat inflated skull with crossed bones and X-ed out eyes. The result is a figure that exudes great allure yet maintains its emotional cool.  

In 1995, while studying at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, KAWS began combining his street art with commercial design. He contributed designs for local streetwear label, Subware, founded by fellow graffiti artist, Stash, who, together with Futura and Gerb, had previously founded the GFS – the first brand that incorporated the bold graphic elements of graffiti into T-shirts and other product designs.

In 1996, during his first visit to Japan, it was through the introduction of Stash that KAWS met a group of entrepreneurs and youth culture influencers, with whom he would form long-lasting friendships and launch collaborative projects. Among the group, notably, are Yoppi, who headed the apparel label realmadHECTIC, Hikaru Iwanaga of the Bounty Hunter Co., Jonio of Undercover, and NIGO®, who founded the renowned BAPE brand and store. From the moment when KAWS initiated his first series of toy editions with HECTIC, the artist started exhibitions and product designs with brands worldwide.

In 2001, KAWS looked to the expertise of NIGO® to set up his first solo exhibition in Tokyo, which subsequently sparked NIGO®’s interest in KAWS paintings. Soon after the exhibition, NIGO® was the first to commission a series of paintings from the artist, The Kimpsons series.  

KAWS/NIGO® 's fruitful relationship and NIGO®'s personality are best described by the artist himself. On November 25, 2009, he gave an interview to Gary Panter for the exhibition's catalogue which accompanies his first solo exhibition in a Museum in 2010: The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (Quoted in Monica Ramirez-Montagut, KAWS 1993-2010, Skira Rizzoli, New York, 2010, p. 214).

As KAWS likes to evoke it, NIGO®’s influence extends to his friends too. Collaborative work is part of his culture as well as supporting an artist he likes and since an early stage he has been keen to promote his friends' works: "NIGO® does music and through him I met Pharrell Williams and Pharrell became a really important sort of help for me and just the amount of work that he had commissioning from me really set me up. NIGO® commissioned me too. For about two years I was making just paintings for NIGO® it seemed."

The time NIGO® and KAWS spent together, working on specific products - the Kimpson plastic packages, the BAPE/KAWS head pillows sold in the BAPE shop during the 2001 KAWS exhibition -  led them to imagine other collaboration, reflecting NIGO®'s personal interest. KAWS was one of the first to witness NIGO®'s passion for vintage furniture and special order luxury goods and how it impacted his creations:  "He was into American streetwear, but he took it to a different level by reflecting his own interests. He was really into collecting custom Louis Vuitton products and he was really into all this high-end fashion. He placed streetwear right there in the way that he built the stores and presented it, kind of upped the ante for anybody else in the market." Together, KAWS and NIGO® worked on special projects like the Cassina sofas covered with BAPE/KAWS camouflage fabric, or the upholstery for the Eames chair to be displayed in the Japan retrospective on the artists. These creations were not sold and only for NIGO®'s personal use. They also show how, not only is he influenced by the items he collects, but how he interacts with them. As KAWS likes to recall it, talking about NIGO®: “He is definitely one of the most fascinating guys I know. Just seeing how he’s changed over the years, and how he’s infiltrated – he’s put his eye on things, set his goals, and just does them."