Best known for his large, multi-layered paintings, sculptures of distorted nursery characters, and animal hybrid figures, Brooklyn-based artist KAWS is one of the most celebrated contemporary artists. His colorful works have been exhibited in various galleries worldwide and public spaces focusing on street art.
KAWS has made his mark with a signature style that is intricately detailed but often non-representational. What began with graffiti has evolved into complex visual puzzles that must be explored from all angles.
Art by KAWS has been featured in group exhibitions at reputable worldwide galleries, including Somerset House in London and the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo. He has even held a solo show at the Brooklyn Museum in New York. In addition, KAWS has also participated in numerous international art fairs, such as the Frieze Art Fair and Art Basel.
From a small-scale sculpture to a monumental and highly detailed painting, each of KAWS’ works is playful and unsettling. Even his plush toys made using the same painting and drawing techniques used for his larger works are finished with hand-sewn noses or other details.
KAWS has recently gained tremendous popularity as one of the most celebrated contemporary artists. His artworks are highly valued by both collectors and art connoisseurs, with many pieces fetching hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction. Composed of many layers and full of details, KAWS’ artworks are like a puzzle for the viewer. Check out some of his remarkable works below.
The “Go Go Dancer” sculpture was sold at the Phillips auction house in London for $1.6 million in 2011. Positioned before the viewer on a white platform, the painted vinyl sculpture stands on a square base and wears colorful knee-high boots. The piece evoked the artist’s childhood memories of a pinball machine, with its stylized face and flared boots that resemble flippers.
“Savage Love” (2007)
Entitled “Savage Love,” this sculpture was sold at the Phillips auction house in November 2007 for $358,000. The piece depicts a headless, eye-less male figure wearing black pants and holding a knife. As the title suggests, it is inspired by a type of love that is often associated with violence, as when one person defends their right to have sex without their partner’s permission.
This KAWS sculpture entitled “Companion” was produced in 2010. The piece depicts a boy with a dog’s head positioned on a colorful wooden platform. The figure’s facial expression, depicted by detailed black-and-white lines, is both comic and sad simultaneously.
KAWS’ 2013 “Mugly” installation features a series of colorful, disembodied heads that hang from their necks by strings. This version of the work, entitled “Mugly 2”, was exhibited during Art Basel Miami Beach in 2013. The powerful image of the headless figures, mostly wearing large black-rimmed glasses and having green face paint, is ironic and provocative in its depiction of beauty.
“Cookie Monster” (2012)
This art by KAWS entitled “Cookie Monster” was sold at Phillips auction house in London in July 2012 for $425,000. The figure has been inspired by the iconic children’s character from the American television show Sesame Street. In the sculpture, an orange-haired creature holds a cookie in its hand, smiling as though he is about to eat it.
As KAWS’s career unfolds, you can expect the artist to continue surprising everyone with his thought-provoking works. With an intricately detailed signature style, often non-representational, his colorful artworks are full of little details that provide extra insight into the stories he is telling and the signs he is displaying. His paintings, sculptures, or installations may find many hidden references to your everyday life.