Message 19: Bears

The bears, line-drawings also called test specimens, five of which appear in Kid A’s inlay art, resemble Philip Guston’s hooded men, with a difference. Ubiquitous on the band’s website, the bears act as cartoonishly violent corporate sycophants, but they simultaneously constitute a recognizable character-mascot for the establishment of brand identity. While Guston’s figures (often compared to Ku Klux Klansmen) gave a disturbing and sickly organic shape to American civil unrest and racial injustice in the late 1960s and early 70s, the terrifying bears hyperbolically satirize the twenty-first century’s redundantly aggressive consumerism. See Guston’s The Studio and City Limits. Interestingly, John Cage (see Message 14) was a friend of Guston’s.

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