Brian Donnelly (1974), professionally known as KAWS, is an American artist and designer. His work includes repeated use of a cast of figurative characters, action figures 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 toys and characters are his own creations while others are reworked versions of existing icons.

KAWS' sculptures and vinyl toy figures 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.

Style

kaws toys

KAWS’ work can be characterized by an emphasis on color and line, distinctive graphics, such as the repeated use of “x”s on hands and eyes, and a reappropriation of pop culture icons such as Mickey Mouse, the Michelin Man, the Smurfs, Snoopy, and SpongeBob SquarePants. His characters are generally depicted in a shy and/or powerless pose often times with their hands over their eyes.

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Updated: 20 Sept. 2019

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