KAWS Foreground. Credit: Jonty Wilde via NGV

Sitting in Australia’s creative hub of Melbourne, the National Gallery of Victoria is quickly becoming one the country’s most celebrated art spaces. Known to have winding lines outside the arches of its famous entrance, the art and design gallery has had the honour of exhibiting some of the most iconic and prolific artists in history. Now, showcasing international artists from New York, this summer NGV will host the works of KAWS, Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

First up on the agenda, works from KAWS will be seen in Melbourne from September. Also known as Brian Donelly (born in 1974), the work of KAWS has become a social media sensation, driving a large group of cult followers. Fusing art and design, the artist is best known for his ‘companions’ and perfectly balances the concepts of humanity and humour for a hybrid of cartoon-inspired figures and paintings. Following his KAWS:HOLIDAY collaboration with AllRightsReserved – a creation that saw gigantic figurines taking to some of the most iconic landmarks throughout Asia – his latest exhibition KAWS: Companionship in the Age of Loneliness, will foreground the emotional content of the artist’s work.

“Through his works KAWS celebrates generosity, support for others and the deep need we have for companionship. KAWS represents someone who is very much of our time in terms of working across contexts and in hybrid and collaborative ways, and his work presents an antidote or rejoinder to the increasingly toxic nature of public discourse and social media, and division within and across societies,” reads the description via NGV. “He reminds us we need one another and that life should be lived as compassionately as possible to combat this ‘Age of Loneliness’, in the face of fear and hatred.”

Shown from September 20, 2019 to March 1, 2020. It follows KAWS’s recent solo presentations at Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (2016), the Yuz Museum Shanghai and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (2017) and the Hong Kong Contemporary Art Foundation (2019).

Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat at the opening reception for Julian Schnabel at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1987
Photo: © George Hirose

Exclusive to Melbourne and a world-premiere exhibition, the National Gallery of Victoria will also present the work of two of the most significant and influential artists of the late twentieth century in Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines. From December 1, the highly-anticipated exhibition will provide fascinating insights into their unique visual languages and reveals, for the first time, the many intersections between their lives, practices and ideas.

Sharing what was an era of shifting values and ideas, the ’80s was perhaps the greatest time of upheaval, and it was these two artists who shaped the art world forever. Keith Haring (American 1958–90) and Jean-Michel Basquiat (American 1960–88) offered radical ideas through captivating visuals and complex socio-political commentary that continues to influence contemporary visual and popular culture today.

“The exhibition surveys each artist’s tragically short, yet prolific career through more than 300 artworks, including works created in public spaces, painting, sculpture, objects, works on paper, photographs and more. Crossing Lines provides local and international audiences with a comprehensive insight into each of these influential artists, as well as an understanding of their broader impact, both in the 80s and 90s and continuing today.”

Curated for the NGV by Dr Dieter Buchhart, art historian and curator of recent monographic exhibitions on both Jean-Michel Basquiat (Fondation Louis Vuitton, Barbican art Gallery) and Keith Haring (Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris), the exhibition will be on display from December 1, 2019 to April 13, 2020.

For more information on both exhibition, visit the NGV site here.

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