Charles M Schulz’s iconic Peanuts comic strip and its delightful characters have been loved by thousands on a global scale ever since the strip launched in 1950. The humorous Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the rest of the gang featured in 2,600 newspapers at the height of its reach before ceasing circulation in 2000 – but its legacy and influence on other artists continued.
The world of Peanuts has been reimagined by seven contemporary artists as part of a global artist initiative, in which Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the rest of the gang will be seen across large-scale public murals in New York, Paris, Tokyo and other major cities.
Here we feature illustrations from seven of the artists and how Peanuts inspired their own work.
Nina is an American artist and painter who explores race, gender, pop culture and politics in her work. She’s completed large-scale public works before working on this collective.
“When I was a kid, I was completely hooked on all the Peanuts movies,” says Nina. “The subtle humour and illustrations always kept me captivated. So to be able to filter Peanuts through my creative lens is a childhood dream come true.”
Peanuts Worldwide launched the collective this month, which sees artists Mr. A, Nina Chanel Abney, AVAF, FriendsWithYou, Tomokazu Matsuyama, Rob Pruitt and Kenny Scharf marry their own styles with the iconic world of Peanuts to create different billboard designs. The billboards will be displayed in public locations internationally this spring, including Canal St Martin in Paris, New York City’s Hudson Square and downtown San Francisco.
The billboards will be the first ‘phase’ of a multi-year long project for the Peanuts Global Artist Collective – put together by New York creative consulting firm Culture Corps and non-profit Art Production Fund. The work of more than 100 different contemporary artists was evaluated before the final seven artists were chosen, who all have been influenced by the work of Charles Schulz.
FriendsWithYou is the Los Angeles-based art collaborative of Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III, working collectively since 2002.
“We are very much interested in using popular and culturally relevant visual language to disseminate an optimistic and empowering world outlook,” says Borkson. “So given the opportunity to use the Peanuts language, that is so ingrained into the modern world culture, we were more than ecstatic,” adds Sandoval.
The initiative also has full support from Charles’ family.
“This is unique for us, and I think my husband would be pleased that people from all walks of life will have the chance to see his characters through the eyes of some of the most important art makers of our time,” says Jeannie Schulz, widow to Charles.
Rob Pruitt is an American post-conceptual artist who works primarily in painting, installation and sculpture. He is best known for his ongoing series of pandas as well as gradient paintings.
“I have loved Peanuts since I was a kid,” says Rob. “In fact, I think I taught myself how to draw by copying Peanuts characters and strips over and over, especially the details – the grass, the snow, the wobbly lines.”
Unveiling of the first billboard officially takes place tomorrow in Paris’ art-filled 10th Arrondissement, with the debut of a Snoopy-centric image by Chanel Abney on the façade of Le Citizen hotel.
The project then expands on April 15, opening in Seoul’s Jamsil Lotte World Mall with giant floating digital screens on display by Rob Pruitt. Next, Berlin (Mitte district), New York City (Hudson Square) and San Francisco (Downtown) all open on April 16 with murals by all the artists. This is followed by a two-art exhibition at The Snoopy Museum in Tokyo, followed by Mexico City.
Graffiti art was the first way Andre Saraiva made his mark on the world, creating an iconic Mr A character inspired by Peanuts. Andre has now branched out to hospitality and nightlife, but has never put his spray can away.
“I’ve been a big admirer of Charles Schulz and all the Peanuts characters for a very long time,” says Andre. “I have a particular affection for Linus and his blanket. He reminds me of myself when I was a kid.”
Assume Vivid Astro Focus is the brand of Brazilian artist Eli Sudbrack and Paris-based Christophe Hamaide-Pierson. Now based in New York, Eli works with painting, drawing, installations, wallpaper and more.
“I decided to mostly concentrate in images with the Peanuts characters in “action” (tumbling, running, roller skating, surfing, etc.), since I thought the mash-up of AVAF and Peanuts would create this fantastic energising/exhilarating/dynamic/electrifying reaction to whoever is exposed to it,” says Sudbrack.
Kenny Scharf is an American painter and installation artist, who is associated with the Lowbrow movement and was part of the East Village art scene during the 1980s. He is best known for his visually dynamic work inspired by comic books and pop culture. His work has been showcased in New York City for years.
“I think as a child I identified most with Charlie Brown,” says Kenny. “He was kind of an outcast and also my next door neighbor was just like Lucy.”
Matsuyama’s work responds to his own bi-cultural experience of growing up between Japan and America by bringing together aspects of both Eastern and Western aesthetic systems. He’s now based in Brooklyn, New York.
“How global can this project get? It’s Peanuts, one of the most fun yet challenging icons to play with in making art,” says Matsuyama.