The artist is crazy about the art world – his giant puff figures have featured in many of the world’s great lakes, KAWS’s creations on t-shirts and his paintings sold for eight figures in auctions most popular.
01. KAWS is not your real name
Brian Donnelly (born 1974) studied illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Before gaining success as an artist, he worked as a backdrop artist for animated series like Disney’s 101 Dalmations, and hit shows – Daria and Doug.
02. He started his career as a graffiti artist
From an early age, Donnelly was famous for marking New Jersey and Manhattan buildings with “KAWS”, a signature he chose because he liked the way the letters looked alike. Donnelly has quickly moved up from this simple footprint and developed a unique style that involves adding cartoon-like characters to a bus terminal ad.
Following that, he copied these original works of ‘subvertising’ in a series of lithographs. These include a “fake” commercial by Calvin Klein, in which supermodel Christy Turlington is hugged by a green character.
His graffiti roots have reached a wide audience, many of whom have nothing to do with the art world. Unlike most artists, KAWS doesn’t start with a showroom; He is fully aware of the benefits of displaying his work on the street and mass-producing his works to build a following. The latter becomes so big that it attracts the attention of collectors and critics.
Talking about his early days as a graffiti artist, Donnelly confessed, “When I draw graffiti, my whole thought is that I just want to survive. I want to exist in the world with this visual language … Painting makes no sense to me if I don’t reach people. ”
03. KAWS has made a name for itself with toys
In 1999, KAWS visited Japan after being approached by Bounty Hunter, a popular toy and street fashion brand. And here he goes on to create his first toy, “COMPANION”.
Produced in 500 units, the toy was sold out almost immediately and “COMPANION” became a recurring figure, frequently appearing in KAWS works.
04. You’re having a great time
In March 2019, a 121 foot inflatable version of the KAWS “COMPANION” KAWS was installed at Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor during the Art Basel festival. Anchored by a mass of about 40 tons, versions of the work – dubbed KAWS: HOLIDAY – have previously been viewed in Seoul and Taipei, while also marking the latest advance in the celebrity process. of the artist in recent years.
Although KAWS was inherently successful in the 2000s, the 2019 Artnet Intelligence Report reports that in 2017, his average selling price nearly doubled, from $ 42,272 to $ 82,063. In November 2018, 5 KAWS works were sold for over $ 1 million USD and that year his works grossed more than $ 33.8 million in auction.
05. You are very popular on Instagram
KAWS’s success on social media is an important factor helping him rise to the top position in the contemporary art world. At the time of writing, more than 900,000 #kaws have been posted on Instagram, compared with 300,000 by Jeff Koons and 192,000 by Damien Hirst. Experts have speculated that this may be partly due to his bright Pop-Art style recreating social honesty, but this popularity could also be attributed to KAWS’s background. a street artist.
06. KAWS and its comparisons with Basquiat and Haring
Described as curator and art historian Michael Auping “The worst nightmare of the [Clement] Greenberg ”, KAWS is considered the ultimate horror of New York art world. Many have compared him to Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, whose own inimitable styles with street roots, as well as Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons, both of whom have savvy instincts. of art in the era of machine regeneration.
KAWS examined his influential names, ranging from Claes Oldenburg and Tom Wesselman to Takashi Murakami, the latter of what the artist describes as “Acceptance and intersection projects”.
07. He is famous for taking over beloved characters
“No animation is safe from being consumed and transformed into KAWS”says Christie’s associate expert, Noah Davis. He is known for overthrowing the iconic cartoon “heroes” and in so doing he shows his interest in the characters’ global cultural values, reinforcing the idea that He does not distinguish concept art “high” and “short”.
08. He used to design a buoy for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
In 2012, a KAWS “COMPANION” balloon was seen hovering on Manhattan streets as part of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, its twentieth eyes covered by polar gloved hands. big. Its appearances along with characters such as Mickey Mouse and Sonic The Hedgehog provided further evidence of KAWS’s ability to turn art into spectacle for mass consumption.
09. KAWS and Collaborations
After the success of its own fashion label, Original Fake, in the early 2000s, KAWS began partnering with a number of popular street fashion brands, including A BATHING APE and Supreme. In 2008, he designed the cover for Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreak album, and recently he developed his own pair of Nike Air Jordans.
In 2019, Paris Fashion Week saw Dior Creative Director Kim Jones launch the Spring / Summer 2019 collection with KAWS’s explanation of the fashion house’s iconic bee design, set is set on a 33-foot high rose sculpture of KAWS’s “BFF” character, recreated as a toy decorated in a Dior mini suit.
KAWS has also teamed up with the Campana brothers on a series of furniture covered with plush toys, launched at Art Basel Miami and immediately captured by Travis Scott and Kylie Jenner.
10. His work is sold for as little as $ 15 and as much as $ 2.4 million
KAWS has partnered with NIGO, originally the founder of the famous A BATHING APE and currently the Creative Director of the Uniqlo LifeWear UT line. The current collection with the Japanese brand shows him re-drawing his beloved Sesame Street characters on a collection of t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, and toys. All priced under $ 50, products with introductory lines, “You are never too old for the street“.
In contrast, the ultimate sale of war and contemporary art last November at Christie’s in New York saw KAWS’s 2012 painting, CHUM (KCB7), sold for $ 2,412,500, almost folding 5 times its estimated value.
Translator: Nam Vu