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KAWS

American

In the beginning, Brian Donnelly was just a kid from Jersey City, New Jersey, who got into the graffiti thing. KAWS was his tag, chosen simply because he liked the way it looked. Today, KAWS’s oeuvre encompasses art toys, sculptures and colorful paintings and prints that appropriate pop phenomena like the Smurfs, the Simpsons and SpongeBob SquarePants.

In the late 1990s, the artist, a 1996 graduate of New York’s School of Visual Arts, was making a living as an illustrator for the animation studio Jumbo Pictures. Like young Hansel and Gretel with their trail of crumbs, KAWS would mark the morning route to his downtown Manhattan office with “subvertising,” “interrupting” fashion advertisements by adding his colorful character Bendy, its sinuous length sliding playfully around the likes of a Calvin Klein perfume bottle or supermodel Christy Turlington.

These creations gained a following, to the point where work posted in the morning would disappear by lunchtime. Even in those early days, KAWS was hot on the resale market.

“When I was doing graffiti,” he once explained, “it meant nothing to me to make paintings if I wasn’t reaching people.” Instead of seeking entrée to the elite New York art world (which, frankly, wasn’t looking for a street artist anyway), KAWS moved to Japan, where a flourishing youth culture welcomed visionaries like him.

In 1999, he partnered with Bounty Hunter, a Japanese toy and streetwear brand, to release his first toy. Companion — an eight-inch-tall vinyl reimagining of Mickey Mouse, with a skull-and-crossbones head and trademark XX eyes — debuted with a limited run of 500. It sold out quickly.

Companion was the first of more than 130 toy designs, which came to include such characters as Chum, Blitz, Be@rbrick, BFF and Milo, each immediately recognizable as KAWS figures by their XX eyes. Fans have proved insatiable. In 2017, MoMA’s online store announced the availability of a limited supply of KAWS Companion figures; as avid collectors logged on to stake their claim, the website crashed — multiple times.

Companion is the most visible of the KAWS posse, appearing over the past decade in new postures and combinations in monumental works. These include Along the Way (2013), an 18-foot-tall wooden sculpture of two Companions leaning on each other for support; Together (2016), two Companions in a friendly embrace, which debuted during an exhibition of KAWS’s work at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, in Texas; and KAWS:HOLIDAY (2018), a 92-foot-long inflatable Companion floating on its back in Seoul’s Seokchon Lake. The sculptures were re-created as toys, blurring the lines between art and commerce.

KAWS’s visual language may be drawn from cartoons, but his work doesn’t necessarily evoke childlike joy. “My figures are not always reflecting the idealistic cartoon view that I grew up on,” he explains in the catalogue for the Fort Worth exhibition. “Companion is more real in dealing with contemporary human circumstances . . . . I think when I’m making work it also often mirrors what’s going on with me at that time.”

KAWS's résumé reads like a record of major 21st-century pop-culture moments. It includes his work with streetwear brands like A Bathing Ape and Supreme; his design for the cover of Kanye West’s 2008 album, 808s & Heartbreak; and his collaboration with designer Kim Jones on the Dior Homme Spring/Summer 2019 collection, Jones’s debut as the fashion brand’s creative director.

Learn how to spot a fake KAWS art toy, and browse authentic KAWS prints, sculptures and mixed media works on 1stDibs.

Average Sold Price
$6,047
Styles
Materials
KAWS SEPARATED brown (KAWS brown Separated Companion)
By KAWS
Located in NEW YORK, NY
KAWS SEPARATED COMPANION: New & unopened in its original packaging: This highly collectible brown KAWS SEPARATED figure is derived from the Brooklyn based artist’s larger scale sculp...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Pop Art KAWS

Materials

Resin, Vinyl

KAWS Brown Clean Slate Companion (KAWS clean slate brown)
By KAWS
Located in NEW YORK, NY
KAWS Clean Slate (Brown), new & unopened in its original packaging. A well-received work and variation of KAWS' large scale Clean Slate sculpture - a key highlight of KAWS’ major mu...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Pop Art KAWS

Materials

Resin, Vinyl

KAWS TAKE: set of 2 works (KAWS Take companion)
By KAWS
Located in NEW YORK, NY
KAWS TAKE: Set of 2 Works - each new in original packaging. These standout KAWS figurative pieces are a variation of KAWS' large scale TAKE sculpture - a key highlight of the exhibi...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Pop Art KAWS

Materials

Resin, Vinyl

KAWS WHAT PARTY set of 3 works (KAWS Companion set)
By KAWS
Located in NEW YORK, NY
KAWS WHAT PARTY (Set of 3 works: orange, pink & yellow): 3 individual KAWS Companions featuring KAWS' CHUM character in a hunched position. Published to commemorate the debut of KAW...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Pop Art KAWS

Materials

Resin, Vinyl

KAWS FAMILY (grey KAWS Family companion)
By KAWS
Located in NEW YORK, NY
KAWS FAMILY 2021: A well-received work and variation of KAWS' larger FAMILY sculpture - this highly collectible KAWS Companion set was published on the occasion of KAWS’ first large ...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Pop Art KAWS

Materials

Resin, Vinyl

KAWS COMPANION 2020: Complete Set of 3 Works (KAWS 2020 set)
By KAWS
Located in NEW YORK, NY
KAWS 2020 Companion: Complete Set of 3 Works: KAWS COMPANION 2020 was created by KAWS to commemorate the 20th anniversary of his signature figure, Companion — and as cultural commen...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary Pop Art KAWS

Materials

Resin, Vinyl

Small Lie - black
By KAWS
Located in London, GB
The figure features the companion slumped over in what appears to be a disappointing stance, with a long nose that's reminiscent of Pinocchio. Unique from the Open Edition Companions...
Category

2010s Street Art KAWS

Materials

PVC

Small Lie - black
H 11.03 in. W 1.97 in.
SHARE
By KAWS
Located in Washington, DC
Artist: KAWS Title: SHARE Year: 2021 Edition: 460/500 Signed: Hand signed and numbered Medium: Screenprint on Stonehenge gray paper Framed Size: 25 1/4" x 21 1/4" Sheet Size: 20" x 16"
Category

2010s KAWS

Materials

Screen

  • SHARE
  • SHARE
  • SHARE
  • SHARE
H 25.25 in. W 21.25 in.
Browse all Art from KAWS
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Galleries Featuring KAWS

AB Projects
5.0
Lougher Contemporary
5.0
EHC Fine Art
No Reviews Yet
DECORAZONgallery
4.7
Georgetown Frame Shoppe
5.0
New Union Gallery
5.0
Silverback Gallery
No Reviews Yet
Composition Gallery
No Reviews Yet

KAWS art for sale on 1stDibs

1stDibs offers a wide variety of authentic KAWS art for sale. You can find work that includes elements of blue, red, pink and other colors if you are browsing the collection of art to introduce a pop of color in a neutral corner of your living room or bedroom. You can browse by medium to find art by KAWS in vinyl paint, synthetic resin paint, and more. Much of this artist's original work was created during the 21st Century and Contemporary, and is mostly associated with the Pop Art style. Not every interior allows for large KAWS art, so small editions measuring 1.25 inches across are available. Customers interested in this artist might also find the work of Robert Indiana, Peter Max and Keith Haring. On 1stDibs, the price for these items starts at $100 and tops out at $155,000, while the average work can sell for $1,910.
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