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 Kasmin, Ryden’s gallery. The exhibition features a 1994 work, , 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 Kasmin for one week before they open to the broader Barbie-collecting public from November 18.