Brian Donnelly, aka “KAWS”, manifested himself for the first time in the early 1990s by painting walls and writing graffiti in and around Jersey City and New York. In the mid-1990s, he began appropriating advertisements from bus stop shelters and phone booths in New York City and painting a graphic, cartoon-like skull-and-crossbones image into them (known as 'ad disruptions'). He continued to develop this motif for the next few years, re-working advertising materials not only in bus shelters and phone booths in New York City, but in Paris, London, Berlin, and Tokyo. This work has been featured in numerous publications, as well as exhibited at Colette, Paris, PARCO Gallery, Tokyo, MU Art Foundation, the Netherlands, as well as at BAPE Gallery, Tokyo.
His recent work has been influenced by iconic characters from modern pop culture, such as Mickey Mouse, “The Michelin Man”, and The Simpsons. KAWS’ work treads the fine line between art, commerce, cartoons, and commercials. His work manifests itself in the form of large-scale paintings, smaller 'Product Paintings' (displayed in commercial-looking blister packs), sculptures such as the 'Chum' figure, vinyl toys such as the 'Dissected Companion' (for Original Fake/Medicom Toy), editioned prints and of course ad disruption works.
KAWS graduated with a BFA from The School of Visual Arts in New York City, and currently lives in Brooklyn.
This first solo museum exhibition of the work of KAWS, including his most recent paintings, sculptures, and drawings, as well as a survey of his iconic street art, apparel, product and graphic designs opened on June 27, 2010 (through January 2, 2011) at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (CT, U.S.A.). He has recently also had solo exhibitions at Galerie Perrotin in Paris, and Galeria Javier Lopez in Madrid. He has been included in group exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Torrrance Art Museum, Orange County Museum of Art, Yerba Buena Arts Center, San Francisco, and the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati. KAWS has upcoming solo exhibitions at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the High Museum in Atlanta, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 2013. He has had four monographs published about his work, the most recent in 2010 by Skira/Rizzoli.