Kaws

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Kaws
Born Brian Donnelly
1974
Jersey City, New Jersey
Nationality American
Education School of Visual Arts
Known for Painting, graphic design, sculpture, graffiti

Brian Donnelly (born 1974) – professionally known as Kaws (usually written KAWS) – is a pop artist and designer. His work includes repeated use of a cast of figurative characters and motifs, some dating back to the beginning of his career in the 1990s,[1] initially painted in 2D and later realised in 3D. Some of his characters are his own creation whilst others are reworked versions of existing icons. As he grew older, his influences came from traditional life painters, such as Gerhard Richter, Klaus Oldenberg, and Chuck Close.[2]

He began as a graffiti artist, moving on to subvertising, and now makes sculpture, acrylic paintings on canvas and screen prints. He also collaborates commercially, predominantly on small edition toys (for example 2 or 8 inch tall figures), and also clothing, skate decks and other products.

Kaws sculpture ranges in size from small to ten metres tall,[1] and are made from various materials including fibreglass, aluminium, wood and bronze.[3]

His work is exhibited in galleries and museums, held in the permanent collections of public institutions, and avidly collected by individuals.[4] A number of books illustrating his work have been published. He lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

Early life[edit]

Donnelly was born in 1974 in Jersey City, New Jersey.[5] He graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in illustration in 1996.[6] After graduation, he briefly worked for Jumbo Pictures as a freelance animator painting backgrounds for animated series 101 Dalmatians, Daria and Doug.[7]

Donnelly began as a graffiti artist growing up in Jersey City, using the name Kaws.[4] After moving to New York City in the 1990s, he started subvertising billboards, bus shelters and phone booths.[4] He has also subvertised in Paris, London, Berlin and Tokyo.[8]

Artworks[edit]

Kaws' "Companion (Passing Through)" at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

Kaws's acrylic paintings and sculpture have many repeating images, all meant to be universally understood, surpassing languages and cultures. Some of his characters that date back to the beginning of his career in the 1990s: Companion (created in 1999),[4] Accomplice, Chum and Bendy.[1] One of his early series, Package Paintings, was made in 2000. This series, The Kimpsons, subverted the American cartoon The Simpsons. Kaws explains that he "found it weird how infused a cartoon could become in people's lives; the impact it could have, compared to regular politics."[7] In addition, he has reworked other familiar characters such as Mickey Mouse, the Michelin Man, the Smurfs, Snoopy, and SpongeBob SquarePants.

Kaws has periodically shown both paintings and products at Colette in Paris since 1999.[citation needed] His work was included in the traveling exhibition Beautiful Losers, which started at the Cincinnati Contemporary Art Center and travelled throughout the US and Europe, including his then largest museum show to date at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA in 2012.[9]

Kaws's "Companion", a grayscale clown-like figure based on Mickey Mouse with his face obscured by both hands, was adapted into a balloon for the 2012 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade,[4] as part of its "Blue Sky Gallery" along with other balloons.

Having already created oversized sculptures in the past, he started to produce further sculptures of his "Companion" character for exhibitions in Switzerland,[10] Hong Kong,[11] Malaga[12] and London.[13]

Kaws also produces screen prints, for example "Paper Smile",[14] "Ups And Downs"[15] and "Presenting The Past".[16]

Products and commercial collaborations[edit]

Kaws' "Along The Way" at Museumplein, Amsterdam

In 1999 Kaws began to design and produce his first vinyl toy with the Japanese clothing brand Bounty Hunter.[17] He has collaborated on toys with other Japanese companies: Nigo for A Bathing Ape (Bape), and Santastic!.[citation needed] He and Medicom Toy ran OriginalFake, a brand and store in Aoyama, Tokyo that opened in 2006 to sell toys and later clothing but closed in May 2013.[18]

Kaws has collaborated with Jun Takahashi for the brand Undercover, as a voice-over artist for Michael "Mic" Neumann's Kung Faux, and worked on projects with Burton, Vans, Supreme and DC Shoes.[citation needed] There are Kaws-designed small edition bottles for Dos Equis and Hennessy, rugs for Gallery 1950 and packaging for Kiehl's cosmetics.[citation needed]

For the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, Kaws redesigned the MTV Moonman trophy in the form of his "Companion" character.[19] His 3D model was also used to create a 60-foot tall inflatable version,[20] and he redesigned various event materials.[4]

He has illustrated magazine covers for The New Yorker,[citation needed] Clark Magazine (November/December 2010),[21] i-D.[citation needed] and Sneeze Magazine.[22] He has created cover art for musicians Towa Tei, Cherie, Clipse (Clipse "Till The Casket Drops)[citation needed] and Kanye West (808s & Heartbreak).[23]

Nike Air Force 1 trainers with a Kaws design were released in 2008 (the Nike 1World project involved 18 different designers).[24]

In 2014 Kaws designed the bottle artwork for the scent "Girl" by Comme des Garçons and Pharrell Williams.[25]

In 2016 Kaws collaborated with clothing store Uniqlo to produce a line of T-shirts and accessories that were priced cheaply.[citation needed]

In March 2017 Nike subsidiary Jordan Brand released a capsule collection in collaboration with Kaws – Air Jordan four sneakers customized by Kaws, and a number of apparel pieces.[26]

In April 2017 Kaws collaborated with clothing store Uniqlo and comic strip Peanuts produced by Charles M. Schulz Peanuts to produce a line of T-shirts, accessories and plushy that were affordable.[27]

Publications[edit]

Kaws's MTV Moonman trophy
  • Kaws Exposed. Seattle: ARO Space, 1999. ISBN 9789110509443. Edition of 2000 copies. 31 pages of photographs of his graffiti.
  • Kaws One. Tokyo: Little More, 2001. Edited by Kawachi, Taka and Akio E-da. ISBN 978-4898150450.
  • Kaws C10: The Paintings of KAWS. Seattle: Neverstop, 2002. ISBN 9780971709409. With an introduced by Carlo McCormick. Edition of 3000 copies.
  • Kaws: 1993-2010. Skira Rizzoli), 2009. Written by Mónica Ramírez-Montagut. ISBN 978-0847834341. A retrospective, with illustrations and text. Edited by Ian Luna and Lauren A. Gould and with a contribution by Germano Celant.
  • Kaws: Downtime. Atlanta, GA: High Museum of Art, 2012. Edited by Michael Rooks and Seth Zucker. ISBN 9781932543476. With a foreword by Michael E. Shapiro, an essay by Rooks, and a list of Kaws exhibitions. 112 pages. A catalogue to accompany the exhibition Downtime at High Museum of Art.
  • Kaws: Final Days Exhibition Catalogue. 82 pages covering an exhibition at the Center of Contemporary Art of Malaga in 2014.
  • Kaws Exhibition Catalogue. Wakefield, England: Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 2016. Photographs by Jonty Wilde. ISBN 978-1-908432-21-6. A catalogue to accompany an exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. With texts by Flavia Frigeri, Helen Pheby, and Clare Lilley.[28]

Collections[edit]

Kaws's work is held in the following permanent public collections:

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Pop artist KAWS' gigantic cartoon sculptures will be taking over the Yorkshire countryside". The Independent, 31 January 2016. Accessed 25 March 2017
  2. ^ http://masterscontemporary.com/artists/146-kaws/biography/
  3. ^ "KAWS brings giant cartoon creations to Yorkshire Sculpture Park". Creative Review, 4 February 2016. Accessed 25 March 2017
  4. ^ a b c d e f "KAWS on 'Brilliant Ideas'". Bloomberg L.P., 15 June 2016. Accessed 23 March 2017
  5. ^ Lee, Chris (2009-02-21). "Tag, this artist is definitely it". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  6. ^ "Sandra Gering Inc. - KAWS". Sandra Gering. Retrieved 2016-07-22. 
  7. ^ a b Healy, Murray. And "Graffiti Artist Turned Gallery Artist Turned Art Toy Maker, KAWS." Pop. Feb. 2007: 260-265.
  8. ^ "This website is for sale! - iconoclastusa Resources and Information". Iconoclastusa.com. Archived from the original on 2008-12-11. Retrieved 2017-03-22. 
  9. ^ "Kaws: Down Time". High Museum of Art. Accessed 24 March 2017
  10. ^ "More Gallery - Giswil, Switzerland - Kaws: Giswil". Moregallery.ch. 2013-08-26. Retrieved 2017-03-22. 
  11. ^ Bray, Arthur (2014-09-16). "KAWS "Clean Slate" Exhibition @ Harbour City Hong Kong". Hypebeast.com. Retrieved 2017-03-22. 
  12. ^ "Openings: KAWS – "Final Days" @ CAC Malaga « Arrested Motion". Arrestedmotion.com. 2014-03-28. Retrieved 2017-03-22. 
  13. ^ "On Exhibit | Kaws’ Giant "Small Lie" Sculpture At Frieze London | Supertouch". Supertouchart.com. Retrieved 2017-03-22. 
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-03-19. Retrieved 2015-03-16. 
  15. ^ "Pre reserve a new KAWS portfolio of 10 *Sold*". New Art Editions. 2013-10-30. Retrieved 2017-03-22. 
  16. ^ "KAWS 'Presenting The Past' *SOLD*". New Art Editions. 2014-09-18. Retrieved 2017-03-22. 
  17. ^ "Bounty hunter companion - mono Companion by Kaws, ... | Trampt Library". Trampt.com. Retrieved 2017-03-22. 
  18. ^ "KAWS Announces Closure of OriginalFake | HUH". Huhmagazine.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-03-22. 
  19. ^ "MTV Awards Will Feature a New Moonman, Just Right for Brooklyn". The New York Times, 8 July 2013. Accessed 23 March 2017
  20. ^ "VMA's KAWS 60-Foot Moonman: How'd They Do That?". MTV News, 25 August 2013. Accessed 23 March 2017
  21. ^ "KAWS x Clark Magazine Issue 45". Hypebeast, 3 November 2010. Accessed 23 March 2017
  22. ^ "KAWS Fronts the 29th Issue of 'SNEEZE' Magazine Dubbed "Get Met It Pays"". Sneeze Magazine, 18 October 2016. Accessed 25 March 2017
  23. ^ "Kanye West "808s & Heartbreak" album cover by KKAWS"". Hypebeast, November 2011
  24. ^ "Nike 1World Air Force 1 by KAWS". Hypebeast, 1 July 2008. Accessed 25 March 2017
  25. ^ "Girl by Pharrell Williams". Comme des Garçons. Accessed 23 March 2017
  26. ^ Boykins, Austin (20 March 2017). "Jordan Brand x Kaws Collection Release Date". Hypebeast. Retrieved 22 March 2017. 
  27. ^ "Kaws x Peanuts". Uniqlo. Accessed 28 April 2017
  28. ^ "Kaws Exhibition Catalogue". Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Accessed 22 March 2017
  29. ^ "Where the end Starts: 2011: Kaws". High Museum of Art. Accessed 24 March 2017
  30. ^ "Along the Way". Brooklyn Museum. Accessed 17/5/17
  31. ^ "Untitled". Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Accessed 17/5/17

External links[edit]