The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth will host a major survey exhibition of the work of Brooklyn-based artist KAWS (American, born 1974) on view in Fort Worth, Texas, October 20, 2016 through January 22, 2017, and traveling to the Yuz Museum in Shanghai, China, March through August 2017. Organized by Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth curator Andrea Karnes in close collaboration with the artist, this presentation will feature key paintings, sculptures, drawings, toys, and street art interventions to examine KAWS’s prolific career in depth, revealing critical aspects of his formal, conceptual, and collaborative developments over the last twenty years.
Spanning the worlds of graffiti, pop art, and consumer culture, KAWS’s bodies of work are highly charged, each conveying his underlying wit, irreverence, and affection for our times, as well as his agility as an artist. He has primarily looked to and appropriated from pop-culture animations (including The Smurfs, The Simpsons, SpongeBob, Hanna-Barbera, and Peanuts) to form his artistic vocabulary for his paintings, drawings, and sculptures. Now well known for his larger-than-life sculptures and hard-edge paintings that emphasize line and color, KAWS’s cast of hybrid cartoon/human characters, with similarities to popular cartoon figures and logos like Mickey Mouse and the Michelin Man, are perhaps the strongest examples of his exploration of humanity. These figures have amicable names—Chum, Companion, Accomplice—and express and provoke an array of human emotions, from sad, overwhelmed, pathetic, and weary, to shy. They reflect feelings and situations we can empathize with in presentations that are balanced with humor, heartening in their cartoon aesthetic.