A few years ago, Juxtapoz was noted as an unserious, uncritical magazine because of our support for the work of KAWS. It wasn't complimentary I might add although I guess in some ways I found it illuminating. This was the the time of his 2021 exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum, and although we won't note the online publication who made that brazen connection and perhaps hadn't read our magazine, it was also an oddly vicious review of KAWS career. Not only did I not agree that we were somehow unserious for following the career of the graffiti artist turned pop icon, I also felt the very nature of his ascension from stardom in this fashion was fascinating and rarely acheived. Like Banksy, critics struggle with how to review or place KAWS in a canon; they are too popular? Too eagerly awaited by a non-art audience? Whether the work speaks to you or not is irrelevant in this case, there is a certain greater impact here that is worth an understanding. A conversatino. That is what we try to do. 

Some shows just cause a reaction. And, without a doubt, a show featuring KAWS in conversation with Warhol would really generate a conversation, an arguement, a debate, a bit of backlash and, then, there would be a lot of attention and buzz. Maybe I'm naive, but I was suprised at some of the venomous nature to the commentary, as it seems that KAWS' place in both the contemporary art and popular cultural world is somehow still a subject of confused dissertations of a decline in aesthetics. His position as a bridge is fascinating to me, somehow who brings culture to art and art to pop-culture. He is a ubiquitous star of the moment, and where Warhol set the stage for an examination of pop and market ubiquitity, KAWS is an infiltration of ubiquity. He interferes with Pop. He collects iconography, places himself within it. When we began his advertisting takeovers in the 1990s, drawing his iconic characters atop ads in bus shelters which to me are still some of his greatest works, he understood the idea of infiltration into the collective memory. Warhol knew this, too.  

I haven't had a chance to see this show new show, KAWS + Warhol, on view at The Warhol in Pittsburgh through January 25, 2025, but I understand the conflicted art press and the perfect metaphoric curation of both artists together, KAWS responding to Warhol's legacy. And through the spectacle of both their careers, there is something dark lurking here, this sort of Pop as POP, our desire to consume what the museum notes is "signature bright colors and pop culture references while also presenting the lurid spectacle of death." In presenting ubiquitity, of breathing life into our culture of omnipresent forces, there is something lurid about this pairing because it speaks to all of our desires in the pop sphere. Warhol's image of the electric chair in the same context as KAWS work of a dead cookie monster in the arms of his iconic COMPANION character shows puts murder in the realm of an almost blind acceptance. In this sense, this show endures. —Evan Pricco

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