Shows & Exhibitions
In Pictures: See Surrealist Artist Mark Ryden’s Cheerfully Unsettling New Barbie Dolls, Set to Debut in L.A This Week
Painter Mark Ryden gives us 'Bee Barbie,' an occult pedestal of magic eyes that watches Barbie everywhere, and more.
When it was announced last week that Mattel was teaming up to launch a limited-edition, collectable line of Barbie dolls with painter Mark Ryden, the so-called “godfather of Pop Surrealism,” the pairing made an unexpected kind of sense.
This Friday, fans get their first chance to get their hands on the special art Barbies at a pop-up in L.A. put on by Mattel Creations and Kasmin, Ryden’s gallery. The exhibition features a 1994 work, Saint Barbie, which shows a young girl piously praying to a divine Barbie. Today it is one of Ryden’s best known works. For the “Pink Pop” show, the artist is also debuting a new series of paintings, drawings, and sculptures.
“Barbie has made appearances in my art for a long time,” Ryden said in a statement. “It is difficult to define Barbie. She is a cultural phenomenon, an archetypal figure. She is a bona fide celebrity, a subject worthy for Andy Warhol to portray alongside the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe.”
A centerpiece of the collaboration is “Nature Queen Barbie,” a one-of-a-kind figurine with chartreuse hair and a dress sprouting a bouquet of animal heads, as well as a gold crown.
As for the more collectable Ryden-themed Barbies, notable is “Bee Barbie,” who wears a bee-striped fur dress and hood, and has bee wings and a deathly pale face. “She’s sweeter than nectar and deep like a sting,” the Mattel Creations site enthuses. “Bee Barbie” is $150.
The signature product of the Mark Ryden x Barbie collab is likely the “Pink Pop Barbie,” awash in Barbie-core synthetic pink. With candy-stripe stockings and a purse in the form of a T-bone steak, the doll is accompanied by a pet yak and a goony, sentient flower pot. It is $350.
Higher up the price scale is the “Mark Ryden x Barbie at the Surrealist Ball” set, which goes for $500. It features two dolls, each with cropped bangs and a dress studded with surreal motifs. One has an orb on her head; the other, a star.
The set also comes with an occult-like pedestal with a dodecahedron studded with glazed, starring eyes.
A variety of merch related to the collection ranges from a $50 Mark Ryden x Barbie “Bee Brooch” and a $60 “Pink Pop Umbrella” up to a $300 Mark Ryden x Barbie “Pink Pop Purse.”
The full capsule and accessories are available to purchase exclusively at the Ryden x Barbie L.A. pop-up at 8382 Melrose Avenue for one week before they open to the broader Barbie-collecting public on Mattel’s website from November 18.
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