© David Owens
KAWS picks his favourite works at Frieze Masters
By Alison Cole
Brian Donnelly, aka KAWS, has long been an avid art collector, beginning as a young graffiti artist trading sketch books with friends. For the past 20 years, the US artist and designer has nosed around galleries buying works by his favourite artists, including Raymond Pettibon and Robert Crumb, from dealers such as David Zwirner. Although he did not grow up with art at home (“unless you count paintings of the woods”) he says “collecting was ever present, if not conscious”. His preference: Star Wars editions from the 1970s. KAWS studied at New York’s School of Visual Arts, “looking at Bouguereau [during the day] and then doing freight trains [at night]”. So when we asked KAWS, who is in town for his new show, Blackout, at Skarstedt gallery, to tour Frieze Masters with us, a similarly eclectic mix of works caught his eye.
H.C. Westermann, Confined Murderer (1955), walnut, bronze, Venus Over Manhattan, New York: “I got into Westermann through his watercolours; his drawings sucked me in when I saw Eye Infection at the Stedelijk in Amsterdam. I started to collect his drawings, then I got into his sculptures. This piece is super early. There are a few artists I have tunnel vision with—like Westermann and Peter Saul. The character in the sculpture is so alone. But I also love the woodwork, the rivets: it’s so tactile. If you turn it upside down, you’ll find the subject written on the base or on the back. The thing about Westermann is they’re just so nice to handle. That’s not really reflective of my work because the last thing I want somebody to do is touch one of my things as they have such delicate surfaces…”