Trending Now: Art x Commerce
October 17, 2016
Brooklyn-based KAWS is an art-scene amphibian—as comfortable in the world of fine art as he is swimming in the stream of commerce. A prolific toymaker, painter, and sculptor, he started as a graffiti artist in the ’90s before attending New York’s School of Visual Arts. While some artists begin in galleries and later entertain commercial opportunities, KAWS worked in reverse, first creating vinyl toys and tees for Japanese streetwear brands.
His most recognizable creation is Companion, a character with a bubbly, skull-and-crossbones head, Xs for eyes, and an ability to emote a range of human emotions from bashful to contemplative. Companion has appeared larger than life at The Standard in NYC, towered above Harbour City in Hong Kong, and made its home many times over on the shelves of serious toy collectors.
Given KAWS’ knack for blending fashion and fine art, it’s little wonder Nancy Gonzalez has selected him as the company’s initial partner for an artist series. “I immediately thought of KAWS,” says Santiago Barberi Gonzalez, president and executive creative director. “His precise use of color, sense of humor, graphic yet anecdotal imagery—these are attributes we believe our bags also have.”
Debuting this fall: an extremely limited-edition collection of classic Gonzalez styles. Each is the happy combination of Nancy Gonzalez signatures—crocodile, craftsmanship, and bold color—with the iconic XX motif KAWS created when tagging bus-station ads in the early ’90s.
Every color combination has been hand selected by KAWS, the Xs stitched from underneath to created a raised, three-dimensional effect. Each bag is made by hand, numbered, and stamped. “It’s impossible not to smile when you see these creations,” says Gonzalez.
This isn’t the first time KAWS has partnered with the Colombian brand. In 2012,he created a one-of-a-kind tote auctioned at Dallas’ TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art gala. The timing of the latest collab is especially serendipitous, as the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth prepares to host a career-spanning retrospective of KAWS’ work. Where the Ends Starts opens Oct. 20 and continues through early 2017 before traveling to the Yuz Museum in Shanghai.
Nancy Gonzalez + KAWS series is available at the Neiman Marcus Fort Worth and Dallas NorthPark stores.