KAWS, Untitled (from Undercover set), 1999. Courtesy of EHC Fine Art.

In 1996, Brian Donnelly, now known by his moniker KAWS, moved to New York and met fellow street artist Barry McGee, who had a key to the city’s phone booths. KAWS soon devised a strategy: break into the booths, remove their advertising posters, add his own graffiti to the posters, and then reinstall them back in the booth another night. “When I started painting on advertisements, it occurred to me that the ad really set the work in a specific time,” KAWS once said. Indeed, his takes on Calvin Klein advertisements, featuring a young Kate Moss and Christy Turlington, capture the cultural moment of the late 1990s. These early works also reveal KAWS’s first experimentation with his now-signature skull and bones motif, seen on his “Companion” …

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American, b. 1974
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