Lot 58
  • 58

KAWS | KURF (HOT DOG)

Estimate
1,500,000 - 2,000,000 USD
Sold
bidding is closed

Description

  • KAWS
  • KURF (HOT DOG)
  • signed and dated 08 on the reverse
  • acrylic on canvas
  • 68 by 68 in. 172.7 by 172.7 cm.

Provenance

Private Collection, Los Angeles
Private Collection, Japan
Acquired by the present owner from the above

Exhibited

Los Angeles, Honor Fraser, The Long Way Home, February - April 2009
Los Angeles, Royal T, The Art of Cooking, April - August 2012 

Literature

Ian Luna and Lauren A. Gould, KAWS, New York, 2010, p. 37, illustrated

Catalogue Note

Engaging and enigmatic in equal measure, KURF (HOT DOG) epitomizes the playful dynamism and sophisticated manipulation of familiar imagery that distinguishes the acclaimed output of KAWS. Composed of vibrantly saturated colors and boldly defined forms, the present work exemplifies the artist’s continuing investigation and engagement with the legacy of Pop culture, as articulated through his signature style. In KURF (HOT DOG), KAWS outfits his figure in the guise of a ‘Smurf,’ the humorous woodland character familiar from innumerable comics and toys of childhood; marked by the artist’s signature ‘X’ eyes, a sinister and fascinating hallmark of his practice, this inscrutable animation is gradually revealed to be an iconic figure from KAWS' visual lexicon. Amongst the foremost heirs to the Pop legacy of such artists as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Claes Oldenburg, KAWS has risen to acclaim in recent years for the shrewd examination of mainstream visual culture embodied within his distinctive oeuvre. Infiltrating and appropriating the realms of consumerist and entertainment imagery, his paintings and sculptures examine the psychology of contemporary society through an intriguing cast of cartoon characters that, in their iconic familiarity and suggestion of mass-production, blur the boundary between commercial retail and the vanguard of Contemporary art. In KURF (HOT DOG), KAWS presents a figure both innocuous and acutely referential; drawing upon innumerable animated tropes, the character is immediately familiar to the viewer, situating us within a mainstream cultural narrative far more expansive than the whimsical scene before us. KAWS, who worked as an animator for Disney before establishing his artistic practice, cites mainstream cartoons as a central influence upon his oeuvre, explaining that he “found it weird how infused a cartoon could become in people’s lives; the impact it could have, compared to regular politics.” (The artist cited in Healy & Murray, “Graffiti Artist Turned Gallery Artist Turned Art Toy Maker, KAWS," Pop, February 2007, pp. 260-265) Similar to the impersonal portrayal of animated imagery upon a screen, KAWS deftly removes all trace of the artist’s hand, instead executing the clean lines and saturated colors of KURF (HOT DOG) with the exacting precision of commercial fabrication. This manner of execution originates in KAWS’ years as a graffiti artist, when he would modify billboards and other advertisements with such unerring skill that the additions would seamlessly integrate into the original imagery. Held within the figure’s bright blue hand, the elongated hot dog of the present work appears cartoonishly, even absurdly large, extending out beyond the crisp edge of the canvas. A quintessential food within the American visual lexicon, KAWS’ depiction of such an omnipresent consumer item invokes the legacy of American Pop art, continuing in the tradition of artists as storied as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Jeff Koons. As he rests atop a log, neatly nestled in a thicket of lush grass, the impish figure of KURF (HOT DOG) encapsulates the very best of the artist’s fascinating and pervasive oeuvre, keenly resisting all attempts at categorization while delivering striking commentary upon the visual culture of our day.  As Michael Auping attests, “KAWS is not just referring to pop culture, he is making it.” (Michael Auping, "America’s Cartoon Mind" in Exh. Cat., Fort Worth, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Where the End Starts, 2017, p. 63)

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