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HYPE MUSEUM?

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BIOGRAPHY

American artist and designer KAWS is well-known for his toys, posters, and virtual reality creations that spoof popular cartoon and pop culture figures. KAWS is well-known for his distinctive cast of cartoonish creatures that mock well-known cultural figures like Disney's Mickey Mouse. He works at the nexus of the fine art and commercial art sectors and is frequently likened to artists like Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons.

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Jersey City, New Jersey, a borough of the New York metropolitan area, is where KAWS was born. KAWS, a 1974-born artist, always used art as a way to get away from his studies. Growing up in an area with a thriving graffiti and street art environment, KAWS immediately started painting on the streets without a permit, a practice known as "bombing" in the graffiti world. He created his first works while still in elementary school.

He subsequently came up with his own tag: KAWS. He chose a word that had no significance, just because he liked the way the letters looked together. The artist once simply stated that his moniker was "lettering that works."

When KAWS relocated to nearby New York in the early 1990s, he enrolled in the city's School of Visual Arts and earned his degree there in 1996. During this time, KAWS earned a solid reputation for himself in the city as a graffiti artist.

When KAWS decided to move away from lettering, he started experimenting with a creative method that American cultural critic Mark Dery famously called "subvertising." Barry McGee, a friend and fellow artist, gave KAWS a skeleton key that he used to remove ads from phone booths and bus stations. KAWS is well known for painting enormous billboards in New York and elsewhere. These advertisements would be replaced the following day after being taken home and decorated with his own distinctive cartoon character figures. The artist has kept up this approach, as shown in his Models series.

Unquestionably, Companion is KAWS's most recognizable signature character. The character was portrayed in 2012 for the annual Macey's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York utilizing a range of mediums, including painting and a 10-meter-tall wooden sculpture, drawing inspiration from the work of Japanese artist Takashi Murakami.

One of KAWS's most well-known creations is the contentious artwork The KAWS Album, which was created in 2005. It mimics a similar artwork created by comic book artist Bill Morrison for The Simpsons' "The Yellow Album," which features a plethora of characters from "The Simpsons." It has been claimed that the artist plagiarized Morrison's work as well as the original Peter Blake and Jann Haworth "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" cover art.

Strong lines and bright, block colors are used extensively in KAWS's work, as seen in the Ups And Downs series. Due to his frequent usage of Disney-inspired figures with names like Companion, Chum, Bendy, and Blitz, the artist has drawn comparisons to American painters Jeff Koons and Andy Warhol. As many people have pointed out, Koons' Rabbit sculpture series from 1986, which was among the most expensive pieces of art ever sold at auction by a living artist, is strikingly similar to KAWS' toys and sculptures.

The artist's work is consistent with a type of branding because repetition is a significant aspect of KAWS's body of work. In this way, the graffiti culture that was focused on "getting up" and KAWS's early freehand graffiti drawings continue to have an impact on his work.

Through subvertising, KAWS gained significant notice from both advertising agencies and other street artists. In 1997, a story in iD Magazine led to the artist's first international show, which was presented by the French boutique Colette at their location in Paris.

By 1999, KAWS had made multiple trips to Tokyo and had met the creators of the Japanese fashion brands HECTIC and A Bathing Ape. But meeting Hikaru Iwanaga, the head of the Japanese toy manufacturer Bounty Hunter, turned out to be the turning point in the artist's career. Iwanaga's suggestion led KAWS to create a toy for the business that included his iconic Companion character, a Mickey Mouse-like figure with crossed-out eyes that has become a recurring theme in the artist's work.

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