Brian Donnelly (aka KAWS) Honored at the Smithsonian
The artist known as KAWS was honored at this years Hirshhorn Ball for his ‘contributions to art and popular culture.’
The award was presented to KAWS by rapper J Balvin in the Hirshhorn’s sculpture garden. The Hirshhorn is home to The Smithsonian’s modern art collection. Sculptures by such greats as Henry Moore and Auguste Rodin are exhibited throughout the garden. It may soon be home to one of KAWS’ sculptures, as well.
Hirshhorn director, Melissa Chiu, hinted at the prospect of obtaining a KAWS sculpture when she said, “He’s probably one of the most agile artists we know, being able to collaborate with not just other artists, but those in the fashion and music worlds. We look forward to collaborating with him in the future.”
KAWS Honored at the American Folk Art Museum
KAWS was also honored by the American Folk Art Museum (AFAM) in Manhattan. He is an avid art collector and a member of the AFAM’s board of trustees.
KAWS has donated a long lost sculpture to the museum. The sculpture was spotted on the front porch of a home in St. Louis , covered with moss, by historian and art enthusiast, John Foster.
The sculpture, Martha and Mary by William Edmondson, had been displayed at an exhibit in Paris in 1938. Foster found it at the home of an in-law of Lillie P. Bliss, a founder of MoMA. He convinced the owner to donate the work to a museum.
William Edmondson was a self-taught artist. He had only two solo shows in his lifetime. The first at MoMA in 1937, and the second at the Nashville Art Gallery in 1941. He died in 1951 in Nashville after struggling financially during his final years.
Calls were made. The sculpture was taken to New York and cleaned. KAWS bought the piece for an undisclosed amount and has promised it to AFAM.
KAWS lives and works in Brooklyn. He spent his teenage years doing graffiti. After receiving a BFA in illustration, in 1996, from the School of Visual Arts in New York, he worked briefly as an animator for Disney.
The universal language of his work has made him an international sensation, especially in the Asian market.
KAWS has successfully combined art and commerce. He has collaborated with labels like Nike, Supreme, Dior, Comme des Garçons, A Bathing Ape, and Uniqlo, as well as celebrities like Pharrell Williams and Kanye West.
Pamela Cambe. 10 rare KAWS figures that every art collector should know. Lifestyle Asia. November 8, 2021.
Victoria L. Valentine. American Folk Art Museum Will Honor Artists Faith Ringgold, Bisa Butler and Brian Donnelly (KAWS) at 60th Anniversary Gala. Culture Type. February 11, 2022.
Sarah Barr. A ‘Holy Grail’ of American Folk Art, Hiding in Plain Sight. The New York Times. October 20, 2021.