KAWS Christy Turlington Tokion Poster Offset lithograph printed in colours

Models KAWS

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Models is a collection of prints by the renowned American artist and designer, KAWS (born Brian Donnelly). The collection fuses themes of globalisation and consumerism, as each print shows a famous supermodel whose image has been defaced by KAWS’ graphic designs.

In each print in this collection KAWS appropriates the images of models, imbuing them with his signature visual style by adding distinctive graphic features such as crossed out eyes, Mickey Mouse hands and skull and crossbone heads. The collection is exemplary of how KAWS has developed an array of unique graphic motifs and cartoon characters which he frequently incorporates into his works. KAWS was keen to appeal to the masses and gain a wide audience. His graphic motifs, such as the skull and crosses, are a means for him to do this, as the symbols are ubiquitous and understood in all cultures. KAWS’ universally recognised cartoon character, Companion, can also be spotted in the series, notably in the lithograph print Christy Turlington Tokion Poster, 1999, in which Companion lurks timidly behind the Salvadoran-American supermodel, Christy Turlington who poses seductively in nothing but her underwear.

KAWS’ interest in consumerism, as evidenced by this collection, means the artist is often compared to Andy Warhol, the leading figure of the 1960s Pop Art movement. Warhol was fascinated with American consumer culture and advertising, and even created a series of prints, Ads, that were inspired by his favourite advertisements. Warhol was known for blurring the boundaries between high and low culture, commercial and fine art, and this blurred distinction is apparent in KAWS’ work and in the Models collection in particular.

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