KAWS, aka Brian Donnelly, began his career as a graffiti artist in Jersey City, later moving to New York City in the 1990s. He started subverting imagery on billboards, bus shelters and phone booth advertising. His work was often left alone – lasting up to seven months – and soon KAWS’ popularity skyrocketed and the ads became increasingly sought after.
Working across limited edition vinyl toys, clothing, bottles (for Mexican beer brand Dos Equis) and acrylic paintings and sculptures, KAWS has successfully blurred the line between fine art and mass-produced merchandise. He uses his products to allow his imagery to infiltrate a larger audience than that of the fine art world.
The artist is currently an active member in both the commercial and fine art communities. Recent solo exhibitions include OriginalFake at the Bape Gallery in Tokyo (2003) where his sculpture “Wonderful World” sold for $400,000.
KAWS has been periodically showing both paintings and products at Colette in Paris since 1999. His work is included in the traveling exhibition Beautiful Losers, which started at the Cincinnati Contemporary Art Center and will be traveling through 2009 throughout the US and Europe.