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Supermodel 1

Supermodel 1
Signed Print

KAWS

Screenprint, 1999
Signed Print Edition of 50
H 82cm x W 63cm

Critical Review

Supermodel 1 is a signed screen print produced by the internationally acclaimed American artist and designer, KAWS in 1999. The print depicts an image of a glamorous model, pouting and posing in a pair of oversized glasses. The image is rendered in a white and brown duotone, making it less colourful than many of KAWS’ other prints. KAWS appropriates the image of the model by adding his distinct graphic features to the woman’s face, turning her head into a skull with crossbones. The transformation means that the model’s appearance is reminiscent of KAWS’ cartoon character, Companion, who has a similar facial shape.

The print can be seen alongside the other works in KAWS’ Models collection. Each print in this collection takes an image of a model and transforms it through the use of additional graphic designs. The collection captures how KAWS has developed an impressive array of graphic motifs and cartoon characters which he frequently incorporates into his works. The skull and crossbone head which KAWS adds to the model in this print is an example of one of KAWS’ visual motifs. Others include crossed out eyes and Mickey Mouse-style gloved hands.

This print and the others in the Models collection reflect KAWS’ interest in consumerism and commercial culture. While living in New York, KAWS developed a practise known as ‘subvertising’ in which he would unlock the cases of adverts in phone booths and bus shelters, remove the campaigns, and modify the images, transforming them with his graphic designs. KAWS’ fascination with adverts and his affinity with the screen printing technique means he is often compared to Andy Warhol, the leading figure of the 1960s Pop Art movement. Warhol’s work was deeply influenced by globalisation, American consumer culture and advertising and this resonates strongly with the prints in the Models collection.