Buy Kaws- Brian Donnelly Graffiti Modern Pop Artwork
KAWS Street Art
KAWS' artistic concerns were not limited to illustrating. The young artist became interested in urban art and the images that he could show in this field. He then began dabbling in graffiti in New Jersey. This facet of his work gradually matured until he arrived in New York in the 1990s. KAWS began to modify the images of advertising at bus stops and telephone booths. That is when his signature, KAWS, begins to appear in different corners of the city.
His interventions in street advertising were the stage where the brand that would become his peculiar hallmark was born: eyes simulated by a pair of Xs and a kind of elongated skull. Thus, it can be said that it was not graffiti that gave KAWS the boost to fame, but his work on billboards and marquee advertisements. His main objective was to subvert photos of clothing models, following in the footsteps of avant-garde artists such as Max Ernst or Kurt Schwitters or Andy Warhol himself.
The enormous impact of these interventions made both the public and the media turn their attention to the enigmatic KAWS, in a phenomenon similar to that of the famous British graffiti artist Banksy. When the figure created by KAWS encircled the model's body in an advertisement for Calvin Klein underwear, the artist's period of fame in the field of street art began. These interventions were then called "subversion", a nickname they have kept decades later.
How KAWS rose to fame
The increasing scope of his street artworks makes KAWS an increasing media figure. His growing recognition allows him to work in different places around the world, such as Paris, London, Germany, and Japan. In 1998, he received the Pernod Liquid Art Prize, which includes an important scholarship for emerging artists.
In the late 1990s, KAWS began designing and producing limited edition vinyl toys. First, it was toys, then it incorporated clothing that she created for Original Fake, a pop-up store in collaboration with Medicom Toy, in Tokyo's Aoyama district. The method they used was to launch an original limited edition of a product every week. Since then, the KAWS collaborations have not stopped.
KAWS's most iconic character is Companions. This is the result of the mixture of the influences of Disney and the pop of the 60s, expressed in his figure. So, Companion is reminiscent of Mickey Mouse cartoon. In Companion, the artist establishes some of his distinctive signs: white gloves and a pair of Xs instead of eyes, which symbolize death. The bones on both sides of the head, and the manipulation of apparently innocent and happy characters, are shown in processes of suffering and depression.
The First Companion was introduced in 1999, and it has a slightly different look from how it knows now. It had slimmer legs and a prominent abdomen. Five years later, KAWS designed a 13-inch special edition, with a smoother body and a slightly more “tired” stance. Companion was the protagonist of the advertising interventions mentioned above. The figure is produced and marketed through the Japanese firm Bounty Hunter, in a limited edition that quickly sold out. Since then, different versions of the Companion have continued to be produced in different print runs, sometimes in collaboration with haute couture and sportswear firms.
At the end of the decade, the street artist created his first three-dimensional version, and since then his characters have taken on a variety of colors, sizes, and poses. According to Christopher Stern, the KAWS works represent a hypocritical society that feeds on appearances, "always pretending to be happy". Such behavior only leaves concern because it hides serious problems such as depression and anxiety.
As of 2005, KAWS's work prefers to recreate, rather than create. This aspect was also very successful. His appropriations constituted a revolution. In 2005 Donnelly creates The KAWS Album. According to Sarah Cascone, it was sold in 2019 at auction for $14.8 million. The canvas supposes an appropriation upon an appropriation. It's about the characters from The Simpsons. These appear retouched with the character crosses in the eyes and other characteristic features of the artist and pose recreating the cover of the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, by The Beatles. Originally, this cover was used by the creators of the series to illustrate a CD produced in 1998 with songs from the series. KAWS limited himself to tweaking it with his identity.
The artist continues to work on his iconic figures, especially the recurring Companion and figures inspired by The Muppets or Sesame Street. On this same basis, KAWS has intervened in well-known characters such as Pinocchio, Astro Boy, and Snoopy; in addition to the illustrations of SpongeBob and the Smurfs.
In 2006, the artist joined the Japanese company Medicom Toy to create Original Fake, a brand that would market KAWS toys, as well as illustrations, accessories, stickers, prints, and clothing designed himself. Already with his new company, he presented one of his most successful Companions, the Dissected, which showed half of his body with exposed organs and muscles. Later he had some collaborations with other artists, such as the No Future Companion with Hajime Sorayama, and the one that would celebrate the ten years of his creation with Robert Lazzarini, which featured the first Companion with a distorted body.
In 2007, he teamed up with Vans to design sneakers for the release of The Simpsons Movie. The following year she made some flats for the prestigious clothing firm Marc Jacobs, and in 2010 she made an alliance with the Dos Equis beer label. In addition, he has produced covers and inside page illustrations for renowned international magazines such as Nylon, Complex, NY Magazine, and Vogue. Among the commissioned works he has done for famous people are the Family Guy paintings he did to adorn Pharrell Williams' penthouse in Miami. Another Dragon Ball Z illustration for the singer of Chinese descent Edison Chen, and Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak album cover design.
His highest-profile public appearance to date was on November 22, 2012, when his Companion figure participated in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in New York.
KAWS has also worked alongside music producer Nigo for the clothing brand A Bathing Ape, Jun Takahashi for Undercover, and Michael Neumann for Kung Faux. He was also invited to design snowboards for Burton and sneakers for Nike. Among his most recognized works is his collaboration with Dior at Paris Fashion Week. According to Tara C. Mahadevan, Kim Jones enlisted KAWS to collaborate on the designer's first collection for Dior Homme at Paris Fashion Week. From this collection stands out the pink BFF teddy in a Baby Dior suit. The exclusive collectible was a favorite photo prop for a host of celebrities who attended the show, including Kim Kardashian, Bella Hadid, A$AP Rocky, Skepta, and more.
Along with being a big seller of his designs, Kaws has sought to forge a career as a display artist. The Companion figures begin to experience a change in scale, becoming larger and larger and abandoning their original collector essence. In 2008 the Gering & Lopez Gallery in New York hosted his first solo show. Subsequently, a retrospective exhibition was held by the Fort Worth Museum of Modern Art in 2010 under the name KAWS: Where the end stars stand out, which showed at the entrance of the museum a huge black and white figure of Companion with a sunken face in his hands.
The devastating effect generated by a playful character plunged into depression increases exponentially on a monumental scale. Once again, the artist achieves his objective and does not abandon his experimental line, which continues to revolve around the same references. At the same time, the artist maintains part of his original essence and continues to create canvases inspired by urban culture, the city, and graffiti. His designs were also exhibited in Mexico at the end of 2010, curated by Ricardo Campa. Subsequently, works such as Silent City (2011) moved away from his work on television and cultural icons, to enter schools closer to pop, abstraction, or artists from the 90s such as Keith Haring. However, KAWS does not abandon his Companion character, who continues to transform in search of occupying new spaces.
Kaws iconic figure is found again in sculptures such as Born to Blend (2013), where he recovers the reptilian aspect that the artist used in his original actions on billboards. In general, his pieces have been presented at the Galerie Perrotin in France, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Kaikai Kiki Gallery in Tokyo, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and some public squares in Hong Kong and New York.
KAWS recent works
KAWS's latest works explore new fields of work, more in terms of technology and scale than in terms of creativity. The artist has launched a new series of works starring Companion and located in Augmented Reality (AR), hand in hand with the Acute Art app. Under the name Expanded Holiday, the application allows you to see twelve monumental sculptures with the character floating in the air at different locations. KAWS: Holiday, 2019 was located in Victoria Harbor (Hong Kong). A huge, inert figure 37 meters long floats in the waters of the port with outstretched arms, inviting people to view it from the air.
KAWS took his taste for the enormity to the More Gallery in Switzerland with the Massive Wooden Companion, a sculpture made of wood that goes from floor to ceiling and wears clothes similar to Pinocchio's, in addition to having a long nose reminiscent of the Pinocchio character. Final Days is one of the artist's largest sculptures. It's a work that reaches a weight of 10 tons and measures up to 6 meters high. It's carved in a type of African wood to which a source of spiritual energy is attributed. To this ancestral value of the material, the artist has added novel treatments in terms of its texture, its conservation, and the possibility of color change.
The world-famous artist also officially unveiled the SEEING/WATCHING statues depicting the original Companion and the newest BFF character sitting back to back. The giant artworks were made in collaboration with the Hong Kong-based studio. Both pieces are installed on the edge of the newly completed Changsha IFS skyscraper in Hunan. Accompanying the sculptures is an expanding wall envelope at the top of the modern building that represents an entirely new composition by KAWS.
Summary and analysis of Art by KAWS
KAWS is an example of the evolution in art and the market. By studying his professional life, you can see how he went from graffiti to million-dollar sales of toys and clothes, going through exhibitions in which the perspective of his work changed for people. Far from being a mere commercial object, KAWS sculptures are works of art subject to market fluctuations. In this sense, it can be said that there is a reflection on unrestrained consumerism and the society in which we live, intrinsically linked to each of them. In 2017, one of these characters titled Seated Companion 1,200 m broke the auction record for the series, selling for over $400,000.
What we have seen above leads to the conclusion, that if KAWS puts two X's over the eyes of some famous person, he can sell the piece for hundreds of dollars, or, if you make a minor change to the color of a certain piece, his fans will rush to buy it. This leads to the following questions: why does KAWS continue to use the same resource and not run out? And, Where does his success lie? For KAWS, his pieces are like the reflection of his own life, they grow and transform with him. In this way, the emotions he goes through at the moment he builds his works make them different and unique. Added to this is the repetition of a character over and over again makes it more relevant.
In this sense, it is valid to remember the pop influences of KAWS. These are seen in the characters involved, as well as in the way in which, like the greatest exponents of the current, it has blurred the line between elitist art and business. Another notorious “pop” component in his work is the repetition, both of characters and characteristics. Although some critics have pointed out that KAWS's creations lack originality, they are becoming increasingly valuable to the public. It's precisely in the repetition that the work of this artist is revalued.
Under this principle of repetition, and the high demand generated by the works of KAWS in each of its forms, it can be affirmed that the career of this artist is still on the rise. His proposals are becoming more valuable and attractive. Another point in favor of investing in KAWS and its future benefits can be seen in the sense of continuous ascent that the artist has maintained. The work of KAWS had its beginnings in graffiti, however, it ascended to the most important museums in the world. In this sense, his works are admired and recognized globally. This directional and relapse-free rise of KAWS allows noticing an ascending and evolutionary sequence of his work. The artist's sales line promises a prosperous future for him and his investors.