If you’ve never gotten a chance to see KAWS’s massive ALONG THE WAY wooden sculptures, you’re in luck. Beginning on June 10th, the Brooklyn Museum will be featuring the Brooklyn-based artist known as KAWS’ pair of 18-foot-tall wooden figures as their new gatekeepers.
The cartoon looking sculpture will loom over visitors in the museum’s lobby until December 6th. KAWS’ work is now a part of the museum’s permanent collection. Donated anonymously to the museum as a gift, the work will honor Arnold Lehman, the outgoing director who is stepping down later this year after nearly two decades.
Portraying a pair of gigantic figures with their heads lowered and with one arm around each other in a gentle embrace, the sculpture dramatizes familiar childhood toys and cartoon characters while simultaneously transforming their identities into hyperbolic models of contemporary culture.
Their clown-like shoes, hunch-back shoulders, X-ed out eyes, and enormous bodies became Instagram sensations in 2013 when they were exhibited at Mary Boone Gallery in Chelsea. Visitors posed between the legs of the figures and snapped selfies underneath their slightly bowed heads, which resemble inflated skulls-and-crossbones.
The sculpture depicts a recurring figure in KAWS’s work: a character called “Companion” who made his initial appearance in the late 1990s, says Brian Donnelly, the given name of artist, KAWS.
“Originally he was a toy, 8-inches tall,” said Mr. Donnelly to the Wall Street Journal, who began his career as a graffiti artist and whose work has been exhibited in many galleries, including the 2012 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. “He has gone through different changes over the years—he grew taller and fatter.”
Figuring out the best way to enlarge “Companion” took about two years, said the artist. He has a studio in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn and works with a foundry in the Netherlands to produce the figures. The Brooklyn Museum’s piece has been left “natural” and unstained.
“I start with drawings, then I work with a sculptor to make a small model. When I have that right, I send it to the foundry to digitize and produce it in large-scale,” said Mr. Donnelly. It now takes eight to nine months to produce a finished piece,” he said.
The sculpture will also be displayed in the museum’s Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Pavilion and Lobby next to KAWS’ paintings, Glass Smile (2012) and Should I Be Attacking (2013). KAWS: ALONG THE WAY is organized by Eugenie Tsai, John and Barbara Vogelstein Curator of Contemporary Art, Brooklyn Museum.
Be sure to head over to Brooklyn this Wednesday to get a picture with this colossal work.