Kaws
The Kimpsons Series

 

 

 

 

Commissioned by NIGO® in 2004 and created at a critical juncture of the artist’s career, the KIMPSONS works were the first formal paintings on canvas created by KAWS. Painted by hand with Chromacolour paint, a unique acrylic pigment primarily used by animators, these KIMPSONS paintings manifest as the quintessence of the artist’s anarchic painterly enterprise.

The KIMPSONS works stem from the year 2001, coinciding with KAWS’s first solo exhibition in Tokyo. These first works were miniature in size. Titled THE PACKAGE PAINTING SERIES, they were inspired by a beloved animated sitcom and presented in the same kind of plastic blister packaging used by toy manufacturers. KAWS’s first official infiltration into the realm of ‘fine’ art, therefore, was an orchestrated entrance that cleverly negotiated the parameters between painting and product, fine art and commerce.

 

 

Untitled (KIMPSONS), 2003
Acrylic on canvas
40×40 inches (101.6 x 101.6 cm)
Sotheby’s Hong-Kong, 1 April 2019
HKD 21,175,000 / USD 2,697, 589

 

It was during this enormously productive and inspired period in his career that KAWS developed a close personal and professional relationship with Tomoaki Nagao, a.k.a. NIGO®, founder of A Bathing Ape®, a.k.a. BAPE. It was to NIGO® that KAWS turned to for expertise when he was producing the packages for his PACKAGE PAINTINGS, and for the same exhibition, KAWS designed a small BAPE head pillow. Shortly after that, NIGO® not only purchased a KIMPSONS painting but also became the first to commission a series of large-scale acrylic KIMPSONS paintings from the artist.

 

Untitled (KIMPSONS #1) is the first and largest of these commissioned canvas works by NIGO®, marking it a touchstone within KAWS’s career. It is a work of consummate hybrid imagery. The fact that it was commissioned by one of the most visionary cultural entrepreneurs of our time imbues the piece with heightened dimensions and extraordinary significance.

 

Untitled (KIMPSONS#1), 2004
Acrylic on canvas
108×96 inches (274.5 x 244 cm)
Sotheby’s Hong-Kong, 6 October 2019
HKD 57,877,000 / USD 7,382,553

 

Captured in mid-air, suspended at the apex of their projectile trajectory, the KIMPSON family flails with a comic helplessness amplified by their X-ed out eyes, a signature of the artist. The impact is unknown. No context is given. What is at stake is simply the instantly recognizable cartoon silhouettes and the iconic flash of yellow.

 

Untitled (KIMPSONS #3), 2003
Acrylic on canvas
40×40 inches (101.6 x 101.6 cm)
Sotheby’s Hong-Kong, 1 April 2019
HKD 20,575,000 / USD 2,621, 152

 

KAWS shows his wit, vision and irreverence which crisscrosses an ever-expanding network of humanity – from the artist to NIGO®, from cartoon characters to the American public, and from the hitherto enclosed sphere of fine art to street art to television and to the entire world. It is a gargantuan apotheosis of the brilliant insurgence of one of the most influential artists of our time.

 

Commissioned by NIGO® in 2005, THE KAWS ALBUM is an appropriation of an appropriation – KAWS’s take on The Simpson’s The Yellow Album, which was itself a parody of The Beatles’ 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.In this historical ‘family portrait’, KAWS includes the whole host of his Kimpsons characters with their trademark sprouting puffy crossbones and X’ed eyes.

 

THE KAWS ALBUM, 2005
Acrylic on canvas
40×40 inches (101.6 x 101.6 cm)
Sotheby’s Hong-Kong, 1 April 2019
HKD 115,966,000 / USD 14,773,492

 

Released in 1967, The Beatles’ era-defining Sgt. Pepper album was lauded by critics for its bridging of popular music, high art and contemporary counterculture. THE KAWS ALBUM follows in its legendary footsteps in its bold straddling and uniting of genres, cultures and subcultures. Exemplifying KAWS’s formal agility as an artist, the piece is the most accomplished work on canvas the KAWS ever created.

 

Kaws created an entire series of works in 2005 that sold at Sotheby’s Hong-Kong on 1 April 2019.