This artist has taken the world of art by stormHis giant inflatables have been seen in a lake in Seoul as well as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, his characters appear the front of T-shirts. the paintings fetch eight-figure sums in auction
Brian Donnelly (b. 1974) was a student of drawing in the School of Visual Arts in New York. Before he became successful as an artist, he was employed as a background artist on animated shows like the Disney series 101 Dalmations, and cult shows like Daria as well as Doug.
Since his early years, Donnelly was famous for the marking of the buildings of New Jersey and Manhattan with “KAWS,” a name that he picked because he liked how the letters looked together. Then he moved away from this tag however, and created an original style, which involved creating cartoon-like characters for bus-shelter ads.
Then, he would recreate the early works of’subverting his work’ in a series screenprint prints called lithographs. They included an unrealized Calvin Klein ad, featuring the model Christy Turlington being embraced by the green-colored figure.
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His graffiti roots led to his work being seen by various audiences, many of them had nothing to have anything to do with art. In contrast to other art-makers, KAWS did not start out as a gallery artist; He was well aware of the benefits of displaying his work on the streets and mass-producing his work in order to gain an following. This following grew so large that it caught an interest of both collectors as well as critics.
In his first interview being a graffiti artist Donnelly told me, “When I was drawing graffiti, my main thought was “I simply want to be alive.” I would like to be part of this visual language all over all of the universe… That was absolutely nothing for me to create artwork if it wasn’t affecting people.’
In 1999, KAWS traveled to Japan following an invitation from Bounty Hunter, the cult streetwear and toy brand. He went on to make his first product called ‘COMPANION’.
In a limited quantity of just 500 pieces, the toy sold out quickly and COMPANION was a regular character in KAWS their work.
While KAWS was prosperous in the 2000s the year 2019 Artnet Intelligence Report reveals that in 2017 , his average price for sale nearly tripled from $42,272 to $82,063. In November of 2018 five KAWS items were sold for more than $1 million. Over the entire year, his work was worth more than $33.8 million in auction.
KAWS The success of KAWS in social media is a major factor in his rise to the top of contemporary art. As of the writing, over 9000 posts with the hashtag #kaws were uploaded to Instagram in comparison to 300,000 posts for Jeff Koons and 192,000 for Damien Hirst. Some experts have suggested that this may be due in part to his distinctive Pop-art style has been reproduced perfectly online, however this popularity could also be due to KAWS the artist’s roots as an artist on the streets.
Awarded by Art historian, curator Michael Auping as ‘[Clement] Greenberg’s worst nightmare’ KAWS is considered to be the most infamous in this New York art world. Some have even compared him with Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring with their distinctive styles, who were born on the streets and were compared to Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons who were aware of the possibilities for artistic expression in an age that was dominated by digital reproduction.
KAWS has identified some of his inspirations, that range from Claes Oldenburg to Tom Wesselman to Takashi Murakami and the latter in terms his work that he defines as ‘acceptance projects and crossovers’.
“No cartoon is immune from being consumed by the public and turning into KAWS”, says Christie’s specialist associate Noah Davis. The artist is well-known for subverting the iconic cartoon characters and, in doing so, shows his appreciation for these characters’ universal value as well as proving the artist does not distinguish between the concepts of ‘high’ or ‘low art.
In 2012, a KAWS COMPANION balloon was seen floating through the city streets in Manhattan in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, its eyes were covered with large gloves. The appearance of characters like Mickey Mouse and Sonic the Hedgehog proved KAWS the ability of transforming the art form into something spectacular that is suitable for large-scale consumption.
After starting his own fashion brand, Original Fake, in the beginning of 2000, KAWS began working with a variety of streetwear cult labels, such as Bathing Ape and Supreme. In 2008, he created the cover of Kanye West’s highly acclaimed album 808s and Heartbreak and in recent times, he’s designed his own pair Nike Air Jordans.
In the year 2019, Paris Fashion Week saw Dior designer Kim Jones debut his Spring/Summer 2019 collection featuring an KAWS version of the iconic bee design. The collection was set against the 33-ft high rose flower sculpture. It is KAWS’s “BFF The character was recreated as a limited-edition toy the form of a miniature Dior suit.
KAWS has also worked along with Campana brothers on a collection of furniture adorned with plush toys. The range debuted during Art Basel Miami and was quickly snapped up by Travis Scott and Kylie Jenner.
KAWS has joined forces with NIGO the original Bathing Ape fame and now the director of Uniqlo’s life-wear UT collection. The latest collection he has with the Japanese brand is a redrawing of the beloved Sesame Street characters on a assortment of sweatshirts, T-shirts and hoodies as well as toys. The prices are all under $50. each piece is branded with the tagline”You’re never too old to walk street life’.
However, the November Post-War as well as Contemporary Art Evening Sale at Christie’s in New York saw KAWS’ CHUM, his painting of 2012 (KCB7) sold for $2,412,500, which is five times the price of its estimate.