50 years of Hello Kitty, the 'cute' aesthetic is spreading

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50 years of Hello Kitty, the 'cute' aesthetic is spreading

Hello Kitty turns 50 and ends up on display in London. Irresistible, tender, anthropomorphic and sometimes disturbing just like those created by the eccentric Victorian artist Louis Wain (played on film by the equally irresistible Benedict Cumberbatch in Will Sharpe's film with Claire Foy and Andrea Riseborough), cats and kittens are at the center of the Cute exhibition at the Somerset Gallery in London. Sponsor of the event in which, behind concepts such as sweetness, tenderness and adorableness, the malignant and potentially disturbing side of 'cuteness' peeps out, is the Japanese company Sanrio, custodian of the brand of the mouthless doll which has reached the halfway point of first half century. The exhibition is for all ages, in the light of that of its inspirer: often dressed in the manner of their heroine, teenagers and older women cross the halls of the former palace of the Dukes of Somerset behind the bridge of Waterloo, ready to absorb images poised between the easily instagrammable and the exploration of the ambiguities that everything that is 'cute' provokes in the viewer: “From tenderness to aggressiveness towards clearly subordinated and non-threatening consumer goods “, as explained by sociologist Sianne Ngai, author of essays on the aesthetic category of 'cute'. Showcases full of collectible memorabilia recall the 'Kittification' of everyday objects: from computers to pasta, from staplers to car oil, adhesive tape, flavored water, cosmetics and every type of Hello Kitty imaginable, even a dress wedding. Elsewhere there are images of cats from the Victorian age: in addition to those of Louis Wain, considered responsible for raising the social status of felines, there are also their alter egos immortalized in Harry Pointer's postcards – perched on the seat of a tricycle or in posing as if at a tea party – had become so popular that, the Brighton photographer once complained, they had eclipsed his day job. A gallery is dedicated to the culture of kawaii, the Japanese culture of adorableness: it shows how advances in mass production techniques have allowed vast profits thanks to the sweet ability of ' cuteness' to provoke emotions. The exploration continues with the Cry Baby section in which the appearance of vulnerability – the sad eyes of a doll, the rainbows crying multicolored tears – encourage you to take care of the object on display and take it home. All with the help of contemporary artists who explore contemporary society's obsession with adorableness: Wong Ping, Ram Han and Juliana Huxtable are exhibited alongside pop ephemera to explore the reasons why we find them strangely irresistible .

Hello Kitty evergreen, 50 years one smile at a time

Hello Kitty first appeared in 1974 on a clear vinyl coin purse. Over the years she has become one of the most particular and interesting characters in the world, a social icon capable of touching the hearts of women and girls of all ages and ethnicities and also of inspiring designers and artists. Thanks to its brand values – happiness, friendship, simplicity, ability to amaze and involve, contemporaneity – Hello Kitty is still one of the coolest lifestyle brands on the scene today and continues to collaborate with some of the most important companies in the world. It is a Sanrio property , an international lifestyle brand founded by Shintaro Tsuji in 1960 and based on the “One World, Connecting Smiles” philosophy, which aims to promote social communication and spread happiness among people…a smile time. Sanrio, known throughout the world for the Hello Kitty icon, includes over 400 other characters in its portfolio: the timeless classics My Melody, Kerokerokeroppi, Bad Badtz-Maru, Kuromi, and the more recent Aggretsuko – a red panda who tells his stories vicissitudes in a Netflix Original series (already in its fifth season) – and Gudetama, a desecrating lazy and unmotivated egg that in just a few years has conquered a young and transgressive audience and which has recently become the protagonist of a Netflix Original series “ An eggcellent adventure”. Last but not least, the English brand Mr. Men, Little Miss, which has made diversity and inclusion its flagship for more than 50 years, addressing a multi-generational audience.
Ice cream and sweets: in America there are mobile trucks and Hello Kitty Cafés in Las Vegas and Irvine, California. The brand has a very powerful global licensing with collaborations with fashion and sport for example

Where does Hello Kitty live?

Hello Kitty was born in the suburbs of London. He lives with his parents and his twin sister Mimmy, who is his best friend. Her hobbies include baking cookies and making new friends. As he always says, “you can never have too many friends!”
The animated series “Hello Kitty Super Style!” is a Watch Next Media production, Monello Productions and Maga Animation Studio in collaboration with Rai Kids, shown on Rai Yoyo, and in boxset also on RaiPlay.

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