On View: KAWS at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

by Nastia VoynovskayaPosted on


Installation view of three KAWS COMPANION (ORIGINALFAKE) (2011) sculptures in front of Benjamin West’s Death on the Pale Horse (1817) at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, October 2013. Image courtesy PAFA.

There’s something about globalization that is comforting for KAWS, who has fans from New York to Paris to Tokyo. The Pop Art-inspired, interdisciplinary artist sees the language of cartoons and pop culture as something that transcends words: Cartoons are a way of breaking down cultural and linguistic barriers. Last week, the artist opened the exhibition “KAWS @ PAFA” at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, one of the oldest museums and art schools in the US.

Known for its vast collection of 19th and 20th-century American art, the PAFA eschewed a traditional exhibition format for KAWS’s much edgier work. Painted aluminum statues stand in front of realist history paintings in the musuem’s permanent collection, inciting a dialogue between old and new. KAWS says he hopes to foster an inviting environment with his bubbly characters that will spark younger generations’ curiosity about art. “KAWS @ PAFA” will be on view through January 2014. Take a look at some images and a video by Craig Carpenter of the work in the exhibition below.


KAWS, BORN TO BEND, (2013), painted aluminum, 9 1/2 ft., Collection of the artist, on the front façade of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts between October 2013 and August 2014.

Installation view of three KAWS ACCOMPLICE (2010) sculptures at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, October 2013. Image courtesy PAFA.


Installation view of KAWS @ PAFA. Image courtesy PAFA.

Installation view three KAWS COMPANION (2010/11) sculptures in front of Benjamin West’s Christ Rejected (1814) at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Image courtesy PAFA.

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