AGO’s upcoming show featuring Drake-approved artist KAWS is already generating serious hype

It might not be happening until September 2023, but the Art Gallery of Ontario’s KAWS exhibition is already a happening.

KAWS, a.k.a. Brian Donnelly, is a former graffiti artist from Brooklyn who is creating a serious stir on the contemporary art market for what the AGO calls “sophisticated humour and insightful appropriation.” He is best known for creating figures that have become very expensive collectibles finding their way into the collections of many in the entertainment industry including the likes of Pharrell Williams, members of BTS as well as Toronto’s own Drake. 

Drake actually shows off a couple of his KAWS collection in the video for the song “Toosie Slide.” The figures are KAWS Four Foot Dissected Companions, and are currently valued in the $50,000-$100,000 range.

Drake shows off his KAWS figures in video for “Tootsie Slide”

According to the AGO, KAWS has exhibited extensively throughout the United States and internationally, but never in Canada.

“I’m happy to finally be able to share that I will be having my first museum exhibition in Canada this fall at the @agotoronto curated by Julian Cox,” the artist wrote, on an Instagram post announcing the show.

The original AGO exhibition scheduled to open Sept. 30 will give visitors a look at the artists’ meticulous methods, creative process and range, through more than 60 artworks including wall murals, sketches, paintings, sculptures, his altered phone booth advertisements and collaborations.

The centrepiece of the exhibition is a large painted bronze sculpture FAMILY (2021), featuring four of KAWS’ recurring figures of varying sizes posed as a nuclear family.  

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