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KAWS: Animated Media

The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in Texas celebrates the animated work of contemporary art king, KAWS, as their first FOCUS exhibition.

Words: Aimstar
Images: Courtesy of KAWS studio & the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

Whether you’ve been living under a rock or not, the KAWS moniker should be pretty familiar by now. With his cartoon-esq Pop art, the Brooklyn-based artist born Brian Donnelly, who began his career as a subversive street artist in the ’90s, spreading his stencil-based graf murals like many contemporary artists of our time, has long been admired by creatives who clamor for his impressive paintings, sculptures and figurines. But it’s not just about making eye-dazzling visuals for the Disney freelance animator, which is the subject of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth’s first of three Focus exhibition series this season: who is this artist KAWS, who “critiques contemporary consumer culture, blurring the boundaries between it and the art world.”

With over 10+ steady years at his craft, KAWS has a notable resume that includes collaborations with some of the largest global brands like Nike, Hennessy, Comme Des Garcons and VANS, to the most influential like BAPE, Dos Equis and Burton; all in addition to his personal projects and exhibitions that carried over from the street to the fine art gallery interiors of Colette, Bertrand Delacroix, Honor Fraser, among others. Enter Mickey Mouse, the Smurfs, the Simpsons, the Michelin Man and SpongeBob SquarePants, the invariable household names (more than the artist himself) with their X-ed out eyes (and sometimes hands). They appear throughout KAWS’ work in various relatable, humanlike expressions, in effort, perhaps, to show us how we’ve become the true inanimate characters while breathing life into these imagined creatures, during our shared history of popular mainstream culture consumption. Dare we mention his series of limited edition vinyl toys or his clothing line, Original Fake, which, ironically (because they are products and consumers love products), makes further play on this notion?

Maybe KAWS’ work is just about having fun or living our second childhoods. Like others of his class and stature— Shepard Fairey, Dave Kinsey, Geoff McFetridge or even Barry McGee (and the list goes on for sure), KAWS continues the tradition of earlier prototypes like Haring, Basquiat, Warhol who changed the game through their use of urban artfare and a strong desire to say something, like right now. Thankfully, The Modern is listening, long before KAWS is gone, and more importantly, opens the gate for other street artists as great, who have gone relatively unknown in comparison, to finally surface.

The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth’s Focus exhibit on KAWS is on view until February 19, 2012.

For more information visit their site, HERE

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