KAWS Born Brian Donnelly on November 4, 1974 in Jersey City, NJ, KAWS worked in animation after graduating with a BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York. Having started as a graffiti artist in New York in the early 1990s, KAWS began reworking advertisements in his distinctive style, and quickly expanded to become known as a graffiti artist, illustrator, painter, sculptor, toymaker, and product designer, and to achieve subcultural iconography. Pop culture and cartoonish figures populate his commercialist work—which bears a resemblance to the work of Takashi Murakami and a similar attitude to Claes Oldenburg, and blurs the line between fine art and commercial art. He has collaborated to produce everything from x-marked sneakers for Nike, to an album cover for a special edition of Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreak (2008), to a line of T-shirts for Uniqlo. The list goes on to include companies such as A Bathing Ape, Undercover, Kung Faux, Vans, and Comme des Garcons. He opened a store in Tokyo in 2006 named the OriginalFake. His image was included into a balloon for the 2012 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. In 2013, KAWS’s company redesigned MTV’s moon man statue for their 2013 MTV Video Music Awards.
KAWS museum exhibitions include solo shows at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, High Museum of Art, Modern Art Museum, and the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum. Other international galleries include Galerie Perrotin and Honor Fraser Gallery. His work has been seen in Paris, London, Berlin, and Tokyo.
Gaining both street accreditation and international institutional support, his work can be found in the collections at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, High Museum of Art, Modern Art Museum, and the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the Rosenblum Collection in Paris.
The artist currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.