November 19, 2011–May 20, 2012
Companion Passing Through, 2010
Fiberglass, metal structure and paint
16 feet high
Considered a “subculture hero,” Brooklyn-based artist Brian Donnelly, widely known as KAWS, enlists the seemingly incongruent techniques of pop art, toy-making, graffiti, product design, and sculpture to create works like Companion. Uniting fine art and commerce, KAWS has created a body of work that is at once universal and provocative, disconcerting and delightful.
Companion represents one of the numerous characters revisited by KAWS―quirky hybrids familiar in popular culture. Enlarged to a monumental scale, Companion fuses an inflated skull and cross bones, a distinct KAWS symbol, with a Mickey Mouse-like body, his face covered by both gloved hands. According to KAWS, this contemplative pose recalls Rodin’s iconic The Thinker.
This sculpture was part of a larger exhibition that opened on February 18, 2012. The High premiered KAWS: Down Time, a major multi-site exhibition of new work by KAWS. It included a 22-foot-high, site-specific mural painted in the Margaretta Taylor Lobby of the High’s Wieland Pavilion, along with a 24-foot-long triptych hung in of the Museum’s Robinson Atrium. In addition, a gallery installation of paintings, drawings and sculpture featured a grid of 27 tondo paintings, each 40 inches in diameter.