Brian Donnelly, Unexpected Art World Superstar

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(Bloomberg Businessweek) -- To his detractors over the past decade, Kaws’s street-art aesthetic and brand collaborations—he’s most famous for paintings and sculptures of Snoopys and SpongeBobs and Smurfs with XXs for eyes—are empty commercialism. To his supporters, Kaws subverts pop culture totems: His art isn’t shallow; it reveals a shallowness that’s already there.

The April sale was for The Kaws Album, a 2005 spoof on the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band cover that subs in altered characters from The Simpsons. It was an undeniable sign of his cultural potency, and it gave him peerless momentum this year: He had a solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, and his 121-foot-long sculpture resembling a dead Mickey Mouse floated in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor. In May the Brooklyn Museum announced a massive exhibition of his work that’s set to open in 2021.

Brian Donnelly, Unexpected Art World Superstar

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Max Chafkin at mchafkin@bloomberg.net, Claire Suddath

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