Snoopy, SpongeBob and Other Iconic Cartoons Take Over The Modern

Things are getting a little animated at The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, as its latest exhibit KAWS: Where the End Starts arrives with works inspired by iconic cartoon characters like Snoopy, SpongeBob and the Simpsons. 

Along with opening the exhibit on Thursday, the museum is also getting ready to publish a catalogue of artist KAWS's work, set to release in December. The book will feature photos from The Modern's exhibit, along with essays by museum curator Andrea Karnes and chief curator Michael Auping. Singer-songwriter Pharrell Williams chimes in as well.

KAWS, born Brian Donnelly, said he's excited for the finished product. 

"Doing a catalogue for a show like this, for me, is great because working in different fields, you have these fun avenues where your work gets out to the world," KAWS said. "A catalogue is just a way of putting it all together."

But before the book comes out, visitors can enjoy the work live at The Modern. The exhibit showcases a variety of pieces, from towering sculptures depicting Mickey Mouse-like figures, to advertisements KAWS painted over while working in New York.

KAWS talks about his wood scuplture Together at The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. 

While cartoons inspire much of his art, KAWS says he doesn't have a favorite character.

"These are just things I grew up around," he said. "Some of them, like say SpongeBob, I gravitate toward it more just aesthetically than anything."

But the characters in his art are not necessarily depicted in the most cheery, cartoon-esque light. Figures often have skulls for heads and Xs for eyes, a trademark of KAWS's work. Passing Through, for example, features a character sitting down with its hands over its face.

Passing Through by KAWS

The juxtaposition of emotions is a theme KAWS says he likes to explore. 

"I do think it is a lonely world," he said. "Making the sculptures, I just try to take a more human approach to it and express different things that I feel or see around me." 

It's just a matter of what inspires him, and inspiration can come from anything, KAWS says. 

"Art is a funny business," he said. "You see people speculate on things. You see things being rescuplt and popping up in different environments. It's out of your hands once you let it out to the world."

KAWS: Where the End Starts runs through Jan. 22. Learn more about KAWS himself here