With the summer heat soon coming to a close, everyone seems to be flocking to the High Line to experience its gardens and views of the surrounding the city. I was no exception. All along the way are numerous apartment complexes, churches, warehouses, restaurants, and residencies. However, one thing in particular stood out from all the sights. Right before the staircase to Bloomfield St. at the corner of 13th St and Greenwich St., there is a giant cartoon character sitting in the north section of the beer garden directly below the High Line in front of The Standard hotel.
The piece is the artist KAWS’s signature character “Companion,” and here it has the subtitle “Passing Through” since it has traveled all the way from Hong Kong with numerous stops along the way. It will stay in front of The Standard, New York through October 2011.
The work has become a bit of a photo trap. Other than those enjoying the beer garden, many pedestrians who see it want to get a picture with their cameras and/or smartphones.
This results in some very entertaining photos that have been collated to The Standard hotels’ blog The Standard Culture using the Twitter hashtag #KAWS. The artists real name is Brian Donnelly, an artist from Jersey City, NJ. He goes by the professional name KAWS, and the caption on the piece encourages viewers to tweet their photos.
There are eyes drawn underneath, recreating the classic “see no evil” pose. The eyes seem to be slightly exposed though, so whether Companion can see or not is up to the viewer’s interpretation.
However, due to the base and flora around it, it’s difficult to get a great view of the eyes.
The flora seem designed to keep people from climbing on the statue and scuffing it up, which apparently has been effect as it has been here since June and there are very few marks on the statue itself aside from some light weather damage.
You can see more of KAWS’s work on his website. He is an international artist who has worked in sculpture, painting, graphic design, clothing, and toys, but he began his career as a graffiti artist.
Based on the design of the shorts and other references to classical animation, I’d have to guess that the character is male. This is the meatpacking district, after all.