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.

secondary market

I Hate Humans, 2022 by David Shrigley
Rare
I Hate Humans, 2022 £4,590 £2,500

David Shrigley

56 x 75cm

Limited Edition of 125

Ciclopirox Olamine by Damien Hirst
Ready To Hang
Ciclopirox Olamine £16,120

Damien Hirst

114.5 x 112.5cm

Limited edition of 145

Home Earth by Invader
Rare
Home Earth £18,600 £16,740

Invader

42 x 30cm

Limited edition of 50

Tesco Value Petrol Bomb by Banksy
Rare
Tesco Value Petrol Bomb £5,000 £4,500

Banksy

40 x 50cm

Limited edition of 2000

Flower Bomber by Banksy
Rare
Flower Bomber £4,960 £4,700

Banksy

15 x 36cm

Tell Him I Was Too Fucking Busy by The Connor Brothers
Rare
Tell Him I Was Too Fucking Busy £1,040

The Connor Brothers

29.5 x 42cm

Limited edition of 30

GDP Rat by Banksy
Rare
GDP Rat £2,900

Banksy

50.5 x 38.5cm

Stop Panicking by David Shrigley
Rare
Stop Panicking £7,254

David Shrigley

56 x 76cm

Limited Edition of 125

The Currency (H11-725) Unique Print by Damien Hirst
Rare
The Currency (H11-725) Unique Print £8,680

Damien Hirst

150 x 100cm

Limited edition of 1000

For the Love of God, Believe by Damien Hirst
Rare
For the Love of God, Believe £3,500

Damien Hirst

24 x 32.5cm

Limited edition of 17000

The Memory Is The First Thing To Go by David Shrigley
Rare
The Memory Is The First Thing To... £1,040

David Shrigley

56 x 76cm

Limited edition of 100

Opium by Damien Hirst
Rare
Opium £21,400

Damien Hirst

48.3 x 43.2cm

Limited edition of 500

Til Death Do Us Part (Viridian Leaf Green Chocolate Skull) by Damien Hirst
Ready To Hang
Til Death Do Us Part (Viridian Leaf... £10,200

Damien Hirst

37.1 x 52.2cm

Limited edition of 50

Spirit by Damien Hirst
Ready To Hang
Spirit £7,000

Damien Hirst

39 x 48cm

Limited edition of 45

Swimmers in Fog by Katherine Bradford
Rare
Swimmers in Fog £2,500

Katherine Bradford

67.94 x 91.44cm

Limited edition of 125

Double Cheeseburger End Of The World Giveaway, 2020 by David Shrigley
Rare
Double Cheeseburger End Of The World Giveaway,... £2,500

David Shrigley

76 x 56 cm

Limited Edition of 125

Pool and Steps, 2021 by David Hockney
Rare
Pool and Steps, 2021 £550 £495

David Hockney

62.23 x 85.09cm

Limited edition of 500

Still Life 2, 2019 by The Miaz Brothers
Rare
Still Life 2, 2019 £1,040

The Miaz Brothers

38 x 38cm

Limited edition of 125

Royal Blue, 2022 by The Miaz Brothers
Rare
Royal Blue, 2022 £3,100

The Miaz Brothers

74 x 96cm

Limited edition of 60

Extract The Juice From Everything by David Shrigley
Rare
Extract The Juice From Everything £4,960

David Shrigley

55 x 55cm

Limited edition of 125