Workers and tourists near Rockefeller Center have a new, very large, friend in their midst.
Right outside 30 Rock, an 18-foot-tall bronze sculpture by renowned street artist KAWS stands alone. The sculpture, titled "SHARE," is actually two pieces in one — "COMPANION" and "BFF" — and is meant to convey emotions many of us have been feeling these days, according to Rockefeller Center officials.
To us, the expression on "COMPANION" evokes the fear, sadness and isolation we've felt this past year and a half. But we see the smaller piece, "BFF," clutched his hand, reminding us of the comfort we seek.
The sculpture, like many of us, seems to be "seeking the comfort and care of friends and family, we are all desperate to undergo a sense of repair."
"Since 'KAWS: WHAT PARTY' opened at the Brooklyn Museum this February we've been overwhelmed by the incredible response from our visitors," says Anne Pasternak the museum's Shelby White and Leon Levy Director. "His vibrant artistic vision and explosive creativity speak powerfully to the emotions of our time and has resonated with countless museumgoers. I can't wait for his new monumental work in Rockefeller Center to bring joy and inspiration to an even wider audience."
KAWS, whose real name is Brian Donnelly, began creating graffiti in Jersey City during the 1990s outside of the art world. He'd tag "KAWS" on walls, train cars and billboards across the city but eventually began manipulating advertisements, adding his logo of a skull and crossbones with x'd-out eyes on them.
After a trip to Japan, and seeing the popularity of American collectible toys based on cartoons like The Simpsons, he wanted to create something that would communicate across cultures and came up with his "Kimpsons" and "Kawsbob" series. Then in 1999, he made his first vinyl toy, "Companion," which consists of a cartoon character's body and a skull-and-crossbones head.
Much of his "Companion" work exudes childlike innocence but has an underlying menacing theme. Recently, they've depicted sadness, grief, anxiety and isolation.
"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," says EB Kelly, Tishman Speyer's managing director overseeing Rockefeller Center.