Brian Donnelly, better known as KAWS, has upended the art world with his highly finished and incredibly technical paintings and large-scale sculptural works imbued with humor and cultural commentary. KAWS’ output is celebrated for his deep-rooted curiosity with the visual language of mass media and popular culture, often depicting familiar characters from famed advertisements and cartoons. By elevating immediately identifiable characters, in this case, Snoopy from Charles M. Schultz’s comic strip Peanuts, KAWS’ narrative transcends class, gender and cultural boundaries in a universal visual language, asking viewers to contemplate the dialogue between high-brow and low-brow art, and the marriage between fine art and mass consumption.
Intricately rendered on a pristine shaped canvas with KAWS’ signature “X” eyes, UNTITLED (MBFJ3) (2014) displays the artist’s uncanny grasp of the rich history and vast graphic language within popular culture, and the merging of this world with contemporary art practice. When viewing KAWS’ depictions of classic comic characters, like the ever-iconic Snoopy in this case, one is asked to recall their own memories and experiences with such figures, but removed from their expected and familiar context. In doing so, KAWS not only bridges the gap between high-brow and low-brow art, but toys with concepts of visual consumption, societal connectedness and nostalgia, as well as popular culture’s indebtedness to fictional characters like Snoopy within the language of mass media. It is KAWS’ deep-rooted curiosity and exploration of these concepts that make UNTITLED (MBFJ3) so important within the artist’s oeuvre, and speaks to the heart of why KAWS’ work resonates on such a global level.