KAWS Sculpture

Brain Donnely, more widely known as artist KAWS, is a New York City based artist famous for subverting iconic cartoon characters as well as his collaborations with Nike, Dior, Uniqlo, Shu Qi, Edison Chen, and Comme des Garcons, to name a few. The artist has worked across several mediums following his graffiti career, though KAWS sculptures are arguably his most significant. Originally subject matter executed as paintings, KAWS’ three-dimensional works describes and critiques consumer culture in an implicit manner that is easily digestible and attractive. After his first edition of sculptures titled “COMPANION” for the toy and streetwear brand Bounty Hunter sold out immediately, KAWS continued using this character in his sculptural work. KAWS sculptures are presented as innocent, often oversized, and modest children’s play things. They take on endearing humanoid forms that at first glance appear to be pleasurable and charming; however, the figures’ body language suggests the opposite. KAWS sculptures characters are most often seen in dejected positions that mimic the quotidian melancholy of life and consumer culture. Consumerism dictates that in order to feel good, we must consistently purchase commodities that fulfill all of our emotional needs. KAWS’ sculpture suggests that despite our society’s desire for consumption, such expenditure can never provide us with our basic human needs. In rendering sculptures that seem so friendly and inviting, KAWS’ work forces us to consume the reality of consumerism while maintaining an aesthetic that is pleasurable to the eye.