KAWS and Andy Warhol’s Artistic Worlds Collide in a Unique Pittsburgh Museum Exhibition

While there have been numerous exhibitions dedicated to either KAWS or Andy Warhol, it is rare to see a show that explores the works of both artists together. This innovative approach is the centerpiece of a new exhibition at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, showcasing 47 pieces by the two artists. The exhibition aims to highlight the darker aspects of their bodies of work, although KAWS and Warhol also share similarities in how their art has permeated public consciousness and their collaborations with major brands.

In a recent interview with ARTnews, KAWS shared insights into the exhibition at the Andy Warhol Museum, his views on the concept of selling out, and his admiration for Warhol’s work. The conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.

ARTnews discussed with KAWS the inclusion of Warhol’s “Death and Disaster” series in the exhibition, particularly focusing on the silkscreened paintings from the 1960s that depict car crashes and other violent scenes, which Warhol replicated multiple times. KAWS reflected on how his work relates to these paintings, especially highlighting how the context of his pieces changes when placed alongside Warhol’s work. For instance, KAWS’s Companion (2020) sculpture, when displayed near Warhol’s Ambulance Disaster (1963-64), takes on a more tragic resonance.

KAWS also addressed the notion of selling out, a criticism that Warhol faced during his lifetime for his overt commercial ambitions. KAWS expressed indifference towards the term “selling out,” focusing instead on pursuing projects that interest him and exploring various mediums beyond traditional gallery settings. He emphasized the importance of staying true to oneself and being selective about collaborations.

The exhibition not only showcases the thematic connections between KAWS and Warhol but also prompts a reevaluation of their impact on art and culture, challenging perceptions of commercialism in the art world.