Collaborated Project:

City As Studio | Exhibition

As a teenager, Brian Donnelly (b. 1974, Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.) took up graffiti under the name KAWS, painting billboards, freight trains and local passenger trains in New Jersey. While a student at the School of Visual Arts in New York, KAWS made several important connections with older graffiti artists, such as FUTURA and the storied TC5 (The Cool 5) and FC (Fame City) crews, of which he became a member. On a trip to San Francisco in 1995, he met Barry McGee, who was reworking bus shelter advertisements, a practice that KAWS took up back in New York. He gained widespread notoriety for painting superflat x-eyed skulls on the faces of fashion models. In the 1990s, KAWS became a major figure in the Japanese-driven fad of limited-edition vinyl art toys, eventually opening a store in Tokyo called OriginalFake. He has also collaborated with the fashion labels A Bathing Ape and Undercover, among others. He is now probably the most popular international artist of his generation. A retrospective exhibition of his works was presented at the Brooklyn Museum, New York, in 2021.