On August 11, Rockefeller Center is presenting a new commission titled Share, a sculpture by Kaws at Rockefeller Center’s Center Plaza through October 2021. The 18-foot-tall bronze figure features two of the artist’s iconic motifs: “Companion” and “BFF.” The installation coincides with Kaws’ survey at the Brooklyn Museum titled Kaws: What Party through September 5th.
“Kaws has created a universal language for anyone who interacts with his instantly recognizable figures. Kaws’s work subverts expectations while feeling both familiar and stylized, and having Share close our summer season of art at Rockefeller Center perfectly encapsulates our own commitment to contrast New York’s different cultures, styles and energy,” said EB Kelly, Tishman Speyer Managing Director overseeing Rockefeller Center.
Kaws, born Brian Donnelly, is an American artist who blurs commercial and fine art. Influenced by Claes Oldenburg and Chuck Close, Kaws is known for his fiberglass and aluminum sculptures, acrylic paintings, screen prints and collaborations on toys and skateboard decks. Kaws often appropriates and draws inspiration from pop culture animations, such as a cast of hybrid cartoon characters that showcase his exploration of humanity. The Brooklyn resident gained fame for his Companion, a grayscale clown-like figure inspired by Mickey Mouse whose face is obscured by both hands. His piece “Along the Way” is in the permanent collection at the Brooklyn Museum, and he also has works at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.
Share draws from the Mickey Mouse-inspired Companion motif and pairs it with BFF, a pink Elmo-like figure likely inspired by his Sesame Street collaboration with Uniqlo in 2018. “Seeking the comfort and care of friends and family, we are all desperate to undergo a sense of repair,” the press release states of the installation.
“Since Kaws: What Party opened at the Brooklyn Museum this February we’ve been overwhelmed by the incredible response from our visitors,” said Anne Pasternak, Shelby White and Leon Levy Director, Brooklyn Museum. “His vibrant artistic vision and explosive creativity speak powerfully to the emotions of our time, and has resonated with countless museum-goers. I can’t wait for his new monumental work in Rockefeller Center to bring joy and inspiration to an even wider audience.”
The Brooklyn Museum noted that Kaws’s work “both critiques and participates in consumer culture,” exploring the universal emotions “love, friendship, loneliness, and alienation.” This sentiment is illustrated in the wide range of works on display at the museum, from a selection of phone booth ads for DKNY and Calvin Klein that KAWS painted over, to depictions of familiar but slightly altered characters we recognize from popular culture.
Next, check out Kaws’ Brooklyn Museum Exhibition!