This weekend, Instagram is heating up over a dispute between iconic artist KAWS and Jason Freeny.
Much of KAWS’s work revolves around putting a new face on pop culture figures that we know and love, first in a literal sense wheat-pasting over Calvin Klein bus stop ads in his early days, later reinterpreting Disney figures like Mickey Mouse and Pinocchio, or his “Kimpsons” series that riffs on longstanding TV series The Simpsons.
But there’s no doubt, creations like KAWS’s instantly recognizable Chum and Companion characters have taken on a life of their own in streetwear culture, and are no longer seen simply as references, but as original artworks in their own right.
Now artist Jason Freeny has posted a picture on Instagram, showing a work-in-progress piece that strongly resembles KAWS’s deconstructed Companion figure, which has been produced in Be@rbrick and keychain form, and famously masqueraded as the MTV Moonman award at the 2013 VMAs.
Not long after, KAWS left his thoughts on the Instagram post, calling Freeny out by commenting “…no need to mix our work together!” In a bit of a cop out, Freeny then commented back “Just sculpting my semi-accurate interpretation of the internal structure that would give this character its external form.” It’s hard to defend Jason’s position, seeing as his image basically seems like a one-to-one takedown of KAWS’s Companion character. Other Instagram commenters also continued the debate down the thread, some citing Damien Hirst as the first to champion this deconstructed aesthetic.
Let us know what you think in the comments, then check out KAWS’s two new “Blush” Companion characters, which were just announced this weekend.