How Did 7 Contemporary Artists Interpret Peanuts Through Murals?
Featured in 2,600 newspapers, Charles M. Schulz‘s Peanuts comic strip touched the lives of millions around the world. Charlie Brown and the gang have become one of the most recognizable cartoon characters, leaving an indelible mark on culture at large.
These characters and their emotional stories have influenced innumerable creatives worldwide, including seven fine artists who comprise The Peanuts Global Artist Collective, an unprecedented global initiative in which the beloved Peanuts characters will be brought to life in new and exciting ways for the public to experience, giving the gift of art to everyone.
The project launched this spring with Peanuts murals in seven cities around the world, with additional public art to follow in the fall. First, the murals have touched down in New York, with installations to follow in Mexico City, Paris, Berlin, Tokyo, San Francisco, and Seoul. All based on Peanuts beloved characters, new murals are the work of seven internationally known contemporary artists: Kenny Scharf, Rob Pruitt, Nina Chanel Abney, AVAF, FriendsWithYou, Tomokazu Matsuyama and Andre Saraiva.
Be sure to follow the historic streets of the Hudson Square neighborhood in New York and discover these oversize hand-painted murals on the way to the vibrant children’s museum of the arts. Let’s take a look at these wonderful pieces that brought joy to Peanuts fans around the world.
Featured image: Rob Pruitt. All images courtesy of Peanuts Global Artist Collective.
Born in Sweden, André Saraiva grew up on the outskirts of Paris, tagging his name on the neighborhood walls. He is famous for his graffiti alter-ego Mr. A., a funny round face with a huge smile and a wink that follows you everywhere — often drawn in pink.
As the artist explains, he has always been a big admirer of Charles Schulz and all the Peanuts characters. He is drawn the most to Linus and his blanket since he reminds him of himself as a kid.
Founded by Eli Sudbrack in 2001, Assume Vivid Astro Focus (AVAF) works in a vast range of media, including painting, drawing, installations, video, sculpture, neons, wallpaper, decals, and often tackles gender, politics and embedded cultural codes through pop imagery and neon colors. Sudbrack often works in a duo with Christophe Hamaide Pierson, while AVAF often morphs into a collective as well.
For his Peanuts mural, he decided to focus on images with the characters in action. Combined with AVAF visual aesthetics, it resulted in a mural imbued with dynamics and energy. His favorite characters are Peppermint Patty and Snoopy.
Nina Chanel Abney
Capturing the frenetic pace of contemporary culture, Nina Chanel Abney creates paintings with a diverse range of subjects, including race, celebrity, religion, politics, sex, and art history. Lying somewhere between representation and abstraction, her works are characterized by a bracing use of color and unapologetic scale.
As she explains, she has always been captivated by subtle humor and illustrations of Peanuts. As a kid, she would always draw her favorite characters. One of her dearest childhood memories is when her mom brought her a Snoopy sheet set for her bed.
FriendsWithYou was founded in 2002 as a fine art collaborative of Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III. Incorporating the healing arts, modern rituals, animism, and unified symbols, they create with immersive installations and interactive artworks that engage the viewers in a variety of ways.
The Peanuts project resonated with their interest in using popular and cultural relevant visual language to disseminate an optimistic and empowering world outlook. For Samuel, Peanuts has been a melancholic and peaceful through in his mind. Snoopy and Woodstock are his favorites, but Linus and Pigpen also hold a place in his hearts.
Arturo was first introduced to Peanuts with one of the Charlie Brown Christmas specials, making a huge impact on him. His favorite character is Snoopy.
A Japanese artist, Tomokazu Matsuyama creates work that reflects his bi-cultural experience of growing between Japan and America.
Combining aspect of both Eastern and Western aesthetic systems, he finds inspiration in a variety of subjects, including Japanese art from the Edo and Meiji eras, classical Greek and Roman statuary, French Renaissance painting, post-war contemporary art, and the visual language of global, popular culture as embodied by mass-produced commodities.
For him, Peanuts is one of the most fun yet challenging icons to play with in making art. His favorite Peanuts moment is Charlie Brown and Snoopy visiting Schulz studio.
An American conceptualist artist, Rob Pruitt is known for a highly subversive artistic practice. Often employing sarcasm, he creates works that seem banal and almost dilettante, yet resonate with the viewer greatly. Through his practice, he ironically accentuates and questions his own position in the fabrication of culture.
Pruitt always loved drawing Peanuts as a kid. His favorite characters are Peppermint Patty and Charlie Brown, while his favorite memories are the Vince Guaraldi music from the Christmas special and his Snoopy lunchbox from 1st grade.
Associated with the Lowbrow movement, Kenny Scharf is best known for his visually dynamic work inspired by comic books and pop culture. His work is often described as playful, optimistic, bubbly and full of joy. However, darker issues of the modern world are often lurking beneath the colorful and idyllic surface of his paintings and collages.
What drew him to this project was simply Peanuts love, as he explains. As a child, he always identified with Charlie Brown the most.