Description: Kaws (American b.1974), ‘MOCAD Print’, 2019, unique, screen print in colours on paper, signed and dated in pencil front, stamped in red ink verso, published to coincide with Kaws Exhibition ‘Alone Again’, 2019, The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD); sheet: 25.5 x 20cm
Brian Donnelly (born 1974), known professionally as Kaws (stylized as KAWS), is an American 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, initially painted in 2D and later realised in 3D. Some of his characters are his own creations while others are reworked versions of existing icons.
Kaws’ sculptures range in size from a few inches to ten metres tall, and are made from various materials including fiberglass, aluminium, wood, bronze and a steel pontoon inflatable raft.
His work is exhibited in galleries and museums, held in the permanent collections of public institutions, and avidly collected by individuals including music producer Swizz Beatz, internet sensation PewDiePie and rapper Pharrell Williams. A number of books illustrating his work have been published. He lives and works in Brooklyn, New York, creating sculptures, acrylic paintings on canvas, and screen prints while also collaborating commercially, predominantly on limited edition toys, but also clothing, skate decks and other products.
Kaws’ 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), Accomplice, Chum and Bendy. His series, The Kimpsons, subverted the American cartoon The Simpsons. 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. 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.
Kaws’ “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, 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, Hong Kong, Malaga, London and China.
Kaws’ work is held in the following permanent public collections:
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX: acquired Where the end Starts in 2012
Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY: 1 piece, “Along the Way”
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, San Diego, CA: 1 piece
One Campus Martius, Detroit, MI: 1 piece, “Waiting”