When you think of an artistic masterpiece, what comes to mind? The Mona Lisa by Da Vinci, The Birth of Venus by Botticelli, The Son of Man by Magritte, or Las Meninas by Diego Velasquez? I can name a zillion more gorgeous painting and sculptures from early centuries but honestly I'm more of a connoisseur of the modern and contemporary art. The bolder the better, I say! That is why when I first laid eyes on a KAWS sculpture a few years ago I was instantly hooked! KAWS recently had one of his sculptures at Philadelphia's 30th Street Station this past spring, it garnered so much attention that the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Art asked him to exhibit in their gallery. What's truly amazing about that is that PAFA is known for having a more reserved and conservative approach to what art it displays (19-20th century American paintings and sculptures), it is the oldest art museum in the entire United States!
The KAWS exhibit was filled with saturated colors, assymetetric shapes and pop culture references, things that until recently, PAFA didn't contain. Brian Donnelly, the artist formerly known as KAWS, spans the line between fine art and sophisticated humor with his implications to universally known characters. With this exhibit, you could see many hints towards Spongebob Squarepants, The Simpsons and Disney characters. Donnelly's point of reference for this exhibit was to bring lovers of the exquisite fine arts and people that don't normally attend museums, together. KAWS successfully accomplished that by displacing his paintings and sculptures upon the historic paintings of this landmark building. Rather than placing his 78 paintings and sculptures in it's own room, KAWS took to creatively installing his works in a juxtaposed manner. By doing so, he created a much more thoughtful experience for the viewer, by rethinking the irony and/or similarities between the old masterpieces and the pop- cult buzz. Bold move, sir!
I find inspiration from artists like KAWS that bring forth a change in the way people look at art. It amends me to work harder, and once in a while we all need that kind of push! Unfortunately for those of you that haven't seen the show, it has has ceased to exist there. The exhibit ran from mid October 2013 to January 5th 2014, to catch where his pieces will be next I would recommend stalking his blog! Dear readers, have you checked out KAWS' work before? What do you think of it?