Author: Imogen Aldridge

From Jeff Koons to Kaws: The Rise of Nostalgic Art

Originating as early as the 18th century, the line between high and low art has long been argued, but what of the artists that want to tear the barrier down?

Jeff Koons, Kaws and Whatshisname celebrate the fun to be had with these so-called lower art forms, using their position as popular and talented artists to appeal to all walks of life. The following artists take childhood toys, nostalgic imagery and familiar objects and elevate them to new heights, taking the innocence of these motifs and imbuing them with new meaning.

Blending high and low influences, nostalgic art is often a witty look back on much-loved memorabilia of the past. From teddy bears to balloon animals to fun figurines, these artists turn to their childhood memories and the collective nostalgic memory for inspiration. Discover art by Jeff Koons, Be@rbrick, Kaws and Whatshisname in this sculpture-focused celebration of art.

From Jeff Koons to Kaws: The Rise of Nostalgic Art | Image

From Jeff Koons to Kaws: The Rise of Nostalgic Art | Image

On the surface these fun artworks may seem humorous and lighthearted, but often they carry a deeper meaning. Often for artists like Kaws or Whatshisname, within this nostalgic joy lies an undertone of criticism. Whether it is a criticism of commercialism, like Kaws’ art, or of celebrity culture and consumerism like Jeff Koons, these childhood-inspired artworks are often hiding something slightly more serious under the surface.

Sometimes inspiration comes from your peers, not just the history books. Whatshisname's much-adored balloon dog sculptures, for example, were inspired by the work of Jeff Koons, using the famed artist's original pieces as a canvas for creativity. Beginning as a parody of Koons' work, Whatshisname's balloon artworks are now a best-selling collection of sculptures and prints in their own right. 

Just as the Be@rbrick sculptures draw from artists, brands and fashion, Whatshisname draws inspiration from Koons’ popular artworks. The artworks we have chosen to celebrate here draw from an amalgamation of influences that only serve to make them more enriching and full of life.

From Jeff Koons to Kaws: The Rise of Nostalgic Art | Image

From Jeff Koons to Kaws: The Rise of Nostalgic Art | Image

Kaws - View Collection

Kaws is a graffiti artist and designer that is famous for his nostalgic sculptures. Taking the familiar iconography of teddy bears, figurines and school anatomy sculptures, Kaws then gives his designs a signature street art twist. Kaws' sculptures are endearing and relatable, yet they are also seen as an astute critique of the commercialism of childhood. We love how the artist takes the childhood familiarity of these objects and uses them in his arguments against consumer culture.

From Jeff Koons to Kaws: The Rise of Nostalgic Art | Image

From Jeff Koons to Kaws: The Rise of Nostalgic Art | Image

Be@rbrick - View Collection

The Be@rbrick bear figures have become highly collectible sculptures produced by the Japanese company MediCom Toy. Champions of the designer art toy movement, these endearing figurines are representations of anthropomorphised bears that move at the joints. The wide array of bar figures is down to the numerous collaborations with other artists and brands, including the likes of Kaws, Chanel, Nike and Takashi Murakami. Be@rbrick has taken a generic toy and elevated it to new heights, giving each iteration a life and personality of its own.

From Jeff Koons to Kaws: The Rise of Nostalgic Art | Image

From Jeff Koons to Kaws: The Rise of Nostalgic Art | Image

Jeff Koons - View Collection

Neo-pop artist Jeff Koons is widely regarded as one of the most influential artists of the 21st century. Famous for his sculptures that depict everyday objects, Koons tackles popular culture with his witty balloon animals with stainless steel surfaces. The artist plays with ideas of taste, pleasure, celebrity culture and commerce, creating an unforgettable style that is often viewed as ironic. Koons’ art borrows from art historical styles such as concept art and pop art, formulating his own amalgamation of influences - a completely unique mode of expression.


From Jeff Koons to Kaws: The Rise of Nostalgic Art | Image

From Jeff Koons to Kaws: The Rise of Nostalgic Art | Image

Whatshisname - View Collection

Polish-born artist Whatshisname’s satirical designs are a humorous take on popular culture, particularly the work of American artist Jeff Koons. The anonymous artist’s playful artworks are a fun homage to childish balloon animals, often placing them in playful and creative positions that appeal to the cheeky side in all of us. Drawing the audience in with his witty sculptures and limited edition prints Whatshisname is always one step ahead of his audience. From his parodist sculptures to public projects, every Whatshisname artwork is a visually powerful pop culture statement.

From sought-after artworks by world famous artists, to in-demand limited edition prints by a variety of big names, our Rare Artworks collection is a must-see for all art enthusiasts. We're constantly adding to our collection of Rare Artworks - discover some of our exciting new additions here.

Studio stock

£48

6 x 10 cm

Dreams Can Come True

55 x 56.5cm

£850

55 x 56.5cm

Masterpiece Minus Art Print by Remi Rough
Exclusive

Masterpiece Minus

42 x 29.7cm

£190

42 x 29.7cm

Love is the Drug - Pink Diamond Dust, 2020 Art Print by Ryan Callanan
Exclusive

£200

60 x 60cm

Debbie Harry Rainbow Art Print by Veebee
Exclusive
Veebee £160

£160

50 x 50cm

United Colour of London Art Print by Jayson Lilley
Exclusive

£195

31 x 24cm

Pangolin - Medium Art Print by Lisa Lloyd
Exclusive

Pangolin - Medium

40 x 40cm

£100

40 x 40cm

Not My First Rodeo (11th Edition) Art Print by Babak Ganjei
Exclusive

£135

50 x 70cm

Prince 2000 ZERO ZERO Art Print by Mike Edwards
Exclusive

£150

50 x 50cm

Rebel Rebel Art Print by R-W Studio
Exclusive

Rebel Rebel

50 x 50cm

£120

50 x 50cm

Choco POPek

15 x 12 x 6cm

£300

15 x 12 x 6cm

Pacific Grind

20.3 x 81cm

£200

20.3 x 81cm

Elvis Art Print by David Studwell
Exclusive

Elvis

50 x 50cm

£175

50 x 50cm

Gorilla - Lilac Foil

42 x 59.4cm

£195

42 x 59.4cm

MK-Ultra I

19 x 19cm

£65

19 x 19cm

Northern Scum Art Print by Katrina Russell-Adams
Exclusive

Northern Scum

29.7 x 42cm

£85

29.7 x 42cm

I Love London

22 x 17 cm

£60

22 x 17 cm

Kate Moss - Glow Art Print by VeeBee
Exclusive
VeeBee £285

Kate Moss - Glow

70 x 70 cm

£285

70 x 70 cm

£267

75 x 75cm

Humpek Purple Sculpture

12 x 6 x 12cm

£240

12 x 6 x 12cm

Fail Art Print by Babak Ganjei
Exclusive

Fail

50 x 70cm

£135

50 x 70cm

Sara Pope £150

Amped

18.3 x 18.3 x 3.2cm

£150

18.3 x 18.3 x 3.2cm

£165

45.72 x 60.96 cm

I Love Recycling

22 x 17 cm

£60

22 x 17 cm

£850

55 x 56.5cm

Ben Eine £35

£35

15 x 15cm each

R2Heart2 - Copper Art Print by RYCA
Exclusive
RYCA £150

R2Heart2 - Copper

50 x 70cm

£150

50 x 70cm

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