KAWS is latest artist to join Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade

The street artist known as KAWS poses in front of his balloon "Companion" at the 86th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
(Taylor Hill / AFP/Getty Images)

This year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade featured the usual gallery of cartoon characters inflated to monstrous sizes bobbing alongside garish floats. But the parade also featured a bit of cultural subversion -- albeit of the family-friendly variety -- in the form of a balloon by the New York street artist KAWS.

“Companion” -- a helium-filled version of the artist’s popular sculpture depicting a downtrodden, Mickey Mouse-esque cartoon character -- was one of many balloons that made its way Thursday from New York’s Upper West Side to Herald Square as part of the annual Thanksgiving parade.

KAWS, whose real name is Brian Donnelly, is a former cartoon animator who segued into street art in the late ‘90s. He has made animated figures a central motif of his creations. In recent years, he has found mainstream success with his playfully subversive sensibility.


His Thanksgiving balloon was reportedly 28 feet tall and 41 feet long. KAWS joins a short but growing list of contemporary artists whose works have been turned into Thanksgiving parade balloons. Artists who have contributed to the annual parade include Takashi Murakami, Jeff Koons, Tom Otterness and the late Keith Haring.

KAWS was one of many street artists whose work was featured in last year’s “Art in the Streets” exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.


Tag, this artist is definitely it

Review: KAWS at Honor Fraser Gallery

Art review: ‘Art in the Streets’ at MOCA