Considered a “subculture hero,” Brooklyn-based artist Brian Donnelly, widely known as KAWS, enlists the seemingly incongruent techniques of pop art, toy-making, graffiti, product design, and sculpture to create works like Companion. Uniting fine art and commerce, KAWS has created a body of work that is at once universal and provacative, disconcerting and delightful.
Companion represents one of the numerous characters revisited by KAWS―quirky hybrids familiar in popular culture. Enlarged to 4ft scale, Companion fuses an inflated skull and cross bones, a distinct KAWS symbol, with a Mickey Mouse-like body and gloved hands.
Brian Donnelly is currently best known as the artist KAWS, KAWS is a New York-based artist who has made a name out of him designing limited edition toys and clothing. He is also a world-renowned artist who exhibits in museums and galleries internationally. His art stands somewhere between fine art and global commerce. KAWS moved beyond the sphere of the exclusive art market to occupy a more complex global market.
Brian Donnelly was born in 1974 in Jersey City, New Jersey. He graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York where he obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts in illustration. After graduating from college in 1996, Brian Donnelly worked for Disney as a freelance animator. While living in Jersey City, KAWS began his career as a graffiti artist. By the early 1990s he moved to New York City and began to work focus on subverting the images on bus shelters, phone booth advertisements, and billboards. Soon after his notoriety and popularity reached heights never before expected and these ads became increasingly sought after by the public.
In the late 1990s, KAWS had an opportunity to design and produce limited edition vinyl toys. These toys instantly became a hit with the global art toy-collecting community. In Japan, the toys were a major his since this genre of toys is well respected and widespread.Most recently KAWS has designed toys and clothing for well-known companies such as Original Fake, A Bathing Ape, Undercover, Kung Faux, Nike, Vans, and Comme des Garcons . In the early 2000s he also reworked many familiar television and cartoon icons such as characters from The Simpsons, Mickey Mouse, the Michelin Man, the Smurfs, and even SpongeBob SquarePants.
He has also been highly praised for his work on acrylic paintings and large sculptures.