His work is reaching the forefront of the arts worldHis giant inflatables have graced the shores of a lake in Seoul as well as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, his characters appear in T-shirts and the paintings fetch eight-figure sums in auction
Brian Donnelly (b. 1974) trained in drawing in the School of Visual Arts in New York. Before becoming successful as an artist, he was employed as a background painter for animated shows like the Disney series 101 Dalmations, and cult shows like Daria as well as Doug.
At a young age, Donnelly was well-known for the marking of the buildings of New Jersey and Manhattan with “KAWS,” a name the man chose due to his love of the way the letters appeared together. Then he moved away from the simple tag however, and created an original style, which involved the use of cartoon characters in bus shelter ads.
Then, he would recreate his early work of’subvertising his work’ in a series screenprint prints called lithographs. The series included mock Calvin Klein ad, featuring the supermodel Christy Turlington being embraced by an emerald green character.
His graffiti roots led to his work being seen by various audiences, many of whom had nothing to do with or have anything to do with art. Like many 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 creating a mass production of pieces 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 entire thought was “I simply want to be alive.” I’d like to be part of this visual language all over all of the universe… The idea was little to me that I create artwork if it wasn’t affecting people.’
In 1999, KAWS traveled to Japan following an invitation from Bounty Hunter, the cult toy and streetwear label. He went on to make his first product called ‘COMPANION’.
The toys were produced in an number that was limited to 500 units, toy sold quickly, and COMPANION was a regular character in KAWS the company’s work.
While KAWS was prosperous in the 2000s the year 2019 Artnet Intelligence Report shows that in 2017 , his average price for sale nearly doubled, going from $42,272 up to $82,063. In November of 2018 five KAWS works were sold for more than $1 million. Throughout the entire year, his work was worth more than $33.8 million in auction.
KAWS His success through social networks has played a major reason for his rise into the forefront 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. Experts have suggested that this may be due on the reason that his distinctive Pop-art style is reproduced perfectly online, however this popularity could also be due to KAWS his origins as street artist.
Awarded by the curator, art historian and artist Michael Auping as ‘[Clement] Greenberg’s worst nightmare’ KAWS is considered to be the child for this New York art world. A lot of people have drawn comparisons 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 each were aware of the possibilities for artwork in the age of reproduction by mechanical means.
KAWS has named-checked the influences he has influenced, and they range from Claes Oldenburg to Tom Wesselman to Takashi Murakami and the latter in terms of the concept he defines as ‘acceptance projects and crossovers’.
“No cartoon is safe from being consumed by the public and turning into KAWS according to Christie’s specialist associate Noah Davis. The artist is well-known for subverting famous cartoon heroes and, in doing so, the artist demonstrates his passion for their universal value and proving that the artist does not distinguish between the concepts of ‘high’ or ‘low art.
Visit X Playground to buy KAWS.
In 2012, a KAWS COMPANION balloon was seen floating across the city streets in Manhattan in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, its eyes of XX covered by large gloves. The appearance of the balloon alongside characters such as Mickey Mouse and Sonic the Hedgehog was a further demonstration of KAWS its ability to transform the art form into something spectacular that is suitable for the masses.
After creating his own fashion label, 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 collection for 2019 with an KAWS version of the house’s iconic bee motif, set against an 33-ft-high rose flower sculpture. It is KAWS’s “BFF Character, which was reproduced as a limited edition toy that comes in the form of a miniature Dior suit.
KAWS has collaborated together with Campana brothers to create a line of furniture that is covered in soft toys. The range debuted in Art Basel Miami and was quickly snapped up by Travis Scott and Kylie Jenner.
KAWS has joined forces with NIGO who was originally of Bathing Ape fame and now the creative director of Uniqlo’s UT collection. The current collection from the Japanese brand features him drawing iconic Sesame Street characters on a assortment of sweatshirts, T-shirts and hoodies as well as toys. Each item is priced at less than $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) which sold for $2,412,500, which is five times its estimated value.