KAWS Companion vs Astroboy Screenprint in white

Astro Boy KAWS

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Produced in 2002, Astro Boy is a collection of prints by the prolific American artist and designer, KAWS. KAWS, (born Brian Donnelly), has taken the artworld by storm and his career as an artist who bridges the gap between art and design has developed rapidly since the late 1990s.

Like other renowned artists such as Keith Haring and Jean- Michel Basquiat, KAWS started experimenting with art and design through graffiti. As a teenager, Donnelly created the tag ‘KAWS’, which the artist goes by today, due to the way the letters looked when arranged together in bubble writing. Donnelly started tagging buildings in New Jersey, where the artist grew up, and went on to develop his artistic talents at the School of Visual Arts in New York where he studied illustration and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1996. KAWS then went on to work as a freelance animator for Jumbo Pictures, where he honed his excellent draughtsmanship, working on the backgrounds of animation series such as 101 Dalmatians, Daria and Doug.

KAWS’ study of illustration and early career in animation clearly marks his artworks today. As seen in the Astro Boy collection, KAWS has developed an artistic style characterised by an emphasis on colour, bold gestural lines and a set of distinctive graphics that have become closely associated with the artist’s name. An example of this is the print Astro Boy Vs Pikachu, in which KAWS reworks the familiar cartoon character, Astro Boy, adding his iconic crossed out eyes, a trademark feature of the artist’s visual language.

In Astro Boy, KAWS takes a set of well-known cartoon characters, such as Astro Boy and Pikachu, and renders them in his signature artistic style. The artist also frequently creates his own figurative characters, and has produced an iconic stock of cartoon icons, such as Companion, Chum, Accomplice and Bendy. The creation of these icons resonates strongly with the work of Keith Haring and his impressive collection of repeated icons and motifs, such as the radiant baby, angel, flying devil and barking dog. KAWS’ characters are simple and charming and often appear in timid and shy poses. The characters have brought KAWS international recognition and fame, imbuing the artist with Pop status as a cultural icon of the 21st century who has successfully bridged the division between street art and high art.

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