In the last decade, street-inspired graffiti artwork has slowly begun to stray away from its original home. This often frowned upon style of art, which uses the space on blank city walls as a modern-day art canvas, is now finding a new home, a home off of the streets and into some of the world’s most well renowned and upscale art museums. The best of the best are even selling their work to some high-end art collectors who are paying thousands of dollars for art that only a few years ago was looked down upon.
Here in Atlanta, where graffiti can be found on almost every corner, The High Museum of Art is now home to an exhibit curated by the hugely influential and the greatly respected street artist, KAWS. Born in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1974 with the name of Brian Donnelly, KAWS was a student at the School of Visual Arts in New York where in 1996 he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in illustration. After graduating, KAWS had a short-lived work career at Disney. While he was there he painted backgrounds as a freelance animator. He also had contributed to the animated series Daria, Doug and 101 Dalmatians.
His art career began as a young aspiring graffiti artist in the late 80’s when he began spray painting freight trains and covering the city walls of New Jersey with his name. He later moved to New York City in the 90’s where he would paint on phone booths, bus shelter ads and even high-rise billboards. At first, his modified ads would be left untouched for several months on end. But once the popularity of KAWS’ work began to rise, the pieces were a hot commodity and were being snatched up all over by his many fans. With all of the marketing hype surrounding the persona of KAWS, he had no time to take a break. In the late 90’s he began creating limited edition vinyl toys, which were instantly grabbed up by fans and toy collectors across the globe. His key market appeared to mainly be in Japan, where collecting toys was very common and highly respected. KAWS has also been involved with a few collaborations with different clothing companies like Original Fake, A Bathing Ape and Kung Faux. He has even made snowboards for Burton and different kicks for Nike and Vans. KAWS has painted everywhere from Paris and Berlin to Tokyo and London. KAWS’ ability to blur the line between fine art and street art is a huge reason he has such a wide audience. His sculptures and paintings both have recurring themes in them that anyone can understand in any language. His new exhibit “Down Time” at The High Museum highlights some of KAWS’ older work that he has created. Read the rest of this entry »