Life-size mushrooms, a rainbow zebra, and a snake who wants love, not war: Enter the whimsical world of Austin-born artist duo the Haas Brothers, the masterminds behind the creative displays at Barneys.
From now through the new year in New York, thousands of people will crane their necks and pack in shoulder to shoulder to see the over-the-top holiday window displays. One of the most storied of these is Madison Avenue’s Barneys New York, which this year put its windows in the hands of two Texas natives who hail from one of Austin’s most prominent artistic families, twin brothers Nikolai and Simon Haas. The result: Haas for the Holidays, a whimsical, surreal psychedelic animal- and plant-inspired window world that uses animation and sculpture to celebrate diversity and positivity. The Barneys collaboration—which also includes store activations, merchandise, and a social giving campaign (#haasrules)—provides one of the biggest stages yet for the internationally known brothers, highly sought-after artists who count Lady Gaga and Tobey Maguire among their fans.
“We started making work together when we were born,” says Nikolai, who goes by Niki. “Our aesthetic has a lot to do with childhood and going back to your true self and who you are and what’s influenced you.” The brothers enjoyed an idyllic and art-filled childhood in Austin’s charming historic Clarksville neighborhood before moving to LA, where they live now. The home they shared with their artist parents, Berthold and Emily (who is also an opera singer), and their older brother, actor Lukas Haas, was filled with music, a rotating cast of eccentric characters, interesting collections, and art-making in many forms, from sculpture to masonry. We caught up with Niki, who became a dad just last week to baby boy Fox Haas, to get a glimpse inside their playful, creative world.
The Haas Brothers will be showing rugs and miniatures at the Lora Reynolds Gallery in Austin in January. They are currently fabricating a museum show for The Bass in Miami, which will open a year from now at Art Basel. “We are doing more work in Texas, which we are really excited about,” Niki says. “There’s nothing better than coming home to Texas.”