Brian Donnelly, the ex-Disney illustrator better known as KAWS, created his first vinyl toy in 1999: an eight-inch “Companion” whose round belly, noodly limbs, and white gloves immediately reminded viewers of the cartoons made famous by his former workplace. The limited edition toy, produced in collaboration with the Japanese brand Bounty Hunter, reflected KAWS’s desire to make his work more accessible to the public. In the years since, KAWS has rendered most of his signature characters in three dimensions, including Chum, Bendy, and Blitz, as well as his renditions of iconic cartoons like Tweety, Snoopy, and Pinocchio. When first released, these sculptures often sell out in just seconds. When the Museum of Modern Art promoted KAWS’s toys in its design store, collector demand was so high that the museum’s website crashed multiple times.
Released in 2013, the nine-inch vinyl toy Resting Place was one of the last sculptures manufactured by OriginalFake, the production company founded by KAWS, and Medicom. Marking the end of the seven-year joint venture, the figurine also hints at a transitional time in the artist’s career. With its hands propped on the ground and insides lay bare, Resting Place appears exhausted and exposed. The weary “Companion” can be seen as a symbol for the artist himself, grappling with newfound fame after several high-profile works thrust him into the public eye, including a “Companion” balloon at the 2012 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and a KAWS-designed Moonman at the 2013 Video Music Awards. Available in grey, black, and brown, Resting Place remains one of KAWS’s rarest “Companion” toys, with just 500 editions produced in each colorway.
KAWS is a multi-faceted artist straddling the worlds of art and design in his prolific body of work that ranges from paintings, murals, and large-scale sculptures to product design and toy-making. His iconic “XX” signature has its roots in the beginning of his career as a street artist in the 1990s, when he began altering found advertisements by incorporating his own masterful paintings. Evoking the sensibilities of Pop artists like Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg, KAWS possesses a sophisticated humor and thoughtful interplay with consumer products and collaborations with global brands. He often draws inspiration and appropriates from popular culture animations to form a unique artistic vocabulary and influential cast of hybrid cartoon and human characters.
This Figure has been made with inspiration from the artwork of KAWS, not an actual piece by the artist.
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