Brian Donnelly (1974) is best known as KAWS, a celebrated contemporary artist based in Brooklyn, New York. From humble beginnings as a graffiti artist, he now exhibits in museums and galleries internationally and collaborates with the world’s biggest stars.
KAWS art uses a variety of mediums including graffiti, sculptures, acrylic on canvas, clothing and toys. His creations blur the lines between fine art and commercialism, much like Andy Warhol and Takashi Murakami. Here at Maddox Gallery, we are honoured to represent some of the artist’s much sought-after works. If you are looking to invest in KAWS art, do pay us a visit.
KAWS grew up in New Jersey, becoming interested in graffiti in elementary school. He attended the School of Visual Arts in New York, and added traditional life painters, such as Gerhard Richter, Klaus Oldenberg, and Chuck Close to his artistic influences.
Starting his own graffiti career in early 1990s New York, KAWS began subverting images on billboards, bus stops and phone booths, and his popularity soon reached huge heights. In time, these graffiti advertisements became increasingly sought after by the public, and he travelled extensively to work in Paris, London, Germany, and Japan.
After graduating, KAWS went on to work as a freelance artist for Disney, creating animated backgrounds. Some of his most popular works feature in 101 Dalmatians, Daria and Doug.
Pop culture can be clearly seen KAWS art, most noticeably in his cast of cartoonish characters and motifs, including his best-known characters with crossed out eyes. Some characters are his own creation, while others are re-imagined versions of pop characters such as Mickey Mouse and the Michelin Man.
In the late 1990s, KAWS began to design and produce limited-edition vinyl toys which were an immediate hit internationally, particularly in Japan. In May 2017, the Museum of Modern Art’s Design Store website crashed as a result of demand after they stocked a limited supply of $200 KAWS Companion action figures online. Popular works include his redesign of Mickey Mouse, The Michelin Man and SpongeBob SquarePants.
KAWS has also designed clothing for popular brands such as Vans, and Uniqlo, and in 2017 worked with Nike to produce limited edition Air Jordans. He’s even teamed up with brands like Supreme Comme des Garçons and Hennessy to design everything from skateboards to perfume bottles, applying his signature style.
Last but not least, he contributed to Kanye West’s ‘808s & Heartbreak’ album cover, redesigned MTV’s moon man statue for the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, and provided inspiration for a balloon displayed in the 2012 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
KAWS art is held in prestigious galleries, public institutions and many private collections. The artist has had solo exhibitions in the US, the UK and Japan, and his travelling exhibition ‘Beautiful Losers’ toured throughout Europe and the US. His sculptures have even featured in the UK, in Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Regent’s Park in London. Not only is KAWS art wildly popular with art lovers and collectibles consumers, it also earns sizeable sums from art investors. According to Artnet, his sculpture Wonderful World, shown at his solo exhibition OriginalFake in Tokyo in 2003, sold for US$400,000.
If you’re looking to buy KAWS art, please pay a visit to Maddox Gallery. Our three galleries in central London are staffed by expert Sotheby’s-trained art consultants, who would be delighted to tell you more about the artist and his works.