The moment I got my second vaccine shot and knew I was going to be back in NYC, I got tickets for the KAWS: What Party exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. Boy am I glad I did. I had been slow to the KAWS fan club, but I am now a full-fledged member. I think Brian Donnelly, a.k.a. KAWS, is a genius. The twenty-five year KAWS survey show runs until September 5, 2021. I highly recommend going to see it if you can.
As you enter the museum you are greeted by these enormous eighteen-foot-high wood sculptures. Here is a New York Times review which will give you a good understanding of the exhibition.
In the glass case, right by the exhibition entrance, I loved looking at the blackbooks, postcards and photos. These all dated from the 1990s when Donnelly developed his KAWS tag.
The exhibition is extensive, with 167 objects, so I am only showing you some of my favorites.
KAWS “decided to sell these square canvases in oversized blister packs, molded plastic packaging commonly used to contain small trays and batteries.” (Brooklyn Museum) These KIMPSONS Package Paintings might be my favorite pieces in the show.
CHUM is my favorite of the KAWS figures.
I saw this show in mid-May, so we were all still fully masked. However, that didn’t keep large groups of hip, young KAWS fans from congregating to get themselves photographed in front of GONE. A guard had to shoo people away so others could get a chance to take a look at the art. I have to admit I absolutely love seeing people get so excited about art, selfie or no selfie.
“BENDY is the sculptural version of KAWS’s skull-and-crossbones logo. This motif first appeared as part of the KAWS’s tag, or signature, on a billboard in the mid-1990s, and it subsequently appeared on modified advertisements in phone booths and bus shelters.” (Brooklyn Museum)
This Brooklyn Rail interview is the best I’ve read about the exhibition.
Below are the color charts for the FAR FAR DOWN, LOST TIME and ALONE AGAIN. I adore color charts, and these are particularly fabulous. Donnelly understandably refers to the paintings he creates from the charts as “collages”.
i ordered the exhibition catalogue months ago, and cannot wait to receive it. The publisher has been great about sending updates, and know it will be worth the wait.
I’ll leave you with my six degrees of separation story: One of the first pieces in the show is an image of a drawing by Keith Haring, on a subway ad, which KAWS then painted over. When I was young and just starting out my life in a cool NYC loft down in SoHo, my husband and I were told that the young woman, whose parents owned our apartment, had been good friends with Keith Haring. He had painted on the apartment walls, while she was living there, but those paintings had sadly been covered with white paint. Tragically, the young woman died in an accident, which led her parents to eventually rent the loft to us. While we couldn’t afford the $190,000 they were asking for the loft at the time, we did end up with some great pieces of furniture the parents gave to us—including an Arne Jacobsen dining table and chairs which we still use. I like to imagine Keith Haring eating at our table.