KAWS and effect

Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth adds 'monumental' KAWS sculpture to its collection

Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth adds KAWS sculpture to collection

KAWS, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
KAWS, Clean Slate, 2018 Photo courtesy of The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth has made what it's calling a "monumental" acquisition: a new bronze sculpture by the artist KAWS. Titled Clean Slate, 2018, the piece will be on view to the public beginning December 9.

The museum describes the work by saying in a release, "In Clean Slate, 2018, the central figure strides forward, embracing smaller, childlike figures in each arm, a gesture recognizable to anyone who has found themselves in the company of two tired toddlers. Featuring KAWS's iconic Companion characters, loosely based on Mickey Mouse, with Xs for eyes and skull-and-crossbone heads, the bronze sculpture stands 21 feet tall and overlooks the museum pond."

The acquisition continues The Modern's relationship with KAWS that began in 2011 with a small-scale solo exhibition, part of a FOCUS series, the museum says. As a result of that show, in 2012 the Director's Council voted to acquire the painting Where the End Starts, 2011, which deconstructs KAWSBOB, a KAWS character based on SpongeBob SquarePants.

Also in 2012, KAWS's Companion (Passing Through), 2010, was installed at the main entrance. Visitors loved it and took many photos with the seemingly shy, seated character during its short stay at the Modern, the museum says.

Four years later, the Modern presented a mid-career retrospective of KAWS's work that attracted thousands of visitors from near and far. "KAWS: Where the End Starts" opened in Fort Worth in 2016 and traveled to Shanghai's Yuz Museum in 2017. "New variations on Companion took up residence throughout the museum, including a fiberglass version from 2016 of Clean Slate that occupied the building's entrance plaza; as with Companion (Passing Through) before, visitors responded to this piece with empathy and enthusiasm," the museum says in the release.

"Situated on the North Terrace of the Modern, the scale and rich patina of the new bronze version of Clean Slate, 2018, enter a dialogue with the surrounding concrete architecture and the moods of the pond," the museum says. "It creates a destination for study, selfies, or simple reflection on the experience of being human."

KAWS is a beloved modern artist who began with graffiti writing in the 1990s before moving to making paintings, sculpture, and drawings informed by art history and inspired by cartoons.

"He has created a cast of recurring figures that candidly communicate fundamental aspects of human nature, executed with a clean, graphic, energetic style reminiscent of Pop art," the museum says. "KAWS has a global audience of all ages that continues to grow as his recognizable imagery has made its way into the commercial world, in the form of toys and apparel, among other examples. With his massive international presence, KAWS is now one of the most influential artists of his generation."