The street artist is becoming a museum mainstay as the lower end of this collectible and editioned market continues to rise.
This commentary by Marion Maneker is available to AMMpro subscribers. (The first month of AMMpro is free and subscribers are welcome to sign up for the first month and cancel before they are billed.)
Don’t Hate Him Because He Sells Well
GQ has a profile by KAWS hype man, Arty Nelson, pegged to the MOCAD show of the artist’s work that just closed a few days ago. Nelson covers all of the familiar territory about KAWS’s career as a creator of cultural ephemera that has risen to the height of collectible value. With continuing market growth and increasing institutional alacrity to elevate his work, KAWS has nearly become an instant cliché.
Nelson cannot help himself when he describes the trajectory of the artist Brian Donnelly’s career as KAWS since the 2008 show at Emmanuel Perrotin’s gallery in Miami that was first brokered by the music producer Pharrell. “Donnelly was shot out of a cannon,” Nelson writes, “with bells on and one of those batting helmets with beer holsters and tubes running directly to the mouth.”
With that kind of awkward hyperbole, perhaps we shouldn’t put too much stock in Nelson’s take on the art market. Breathless recitations of recent auction sales are hardly the best way to evaluate an artist’s value or relevance. Nevertheless, it’s clear that there is something significant taking place in the parallel rise of KAWS’s market and his steady march toward institutional acceptance and veneration.
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