All Hail B.B. King! Blues Legend Steals the Art World’s Thunder at Americans for the Arts Gala

Americans for the Arts National Arts Awards Benefit

“When I was younger I went to all kinds of rock concerts,” said Jeffrey Deitch, his silk midnight blue lapels illuminated by candlelight. He was at the Americans for the Arts annual Arts Awards dinner at the lavish Cipriani in Midtown, where artists and patrons annually collect Jeff Koons-designed bunny statues for their services. It’s a little like the art world’s answer to the Oscars, and in a nice change of pace, blues legend B.B. King was set to receive the Isabella and Theodore Dalenson Lifetime Achievement Award. “I remember seeing him at an outdoor concert in the middle of an open field in Massachusetts,” Mr. Deitch continued. “It was a whole field of hippies. He was phenomenal. Everyone loved it.” Read More

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Will Cotton Giveth, and He Taketh Away: A (Very) Truncated Performance About Sex and Candy

The cotton candy. (Photo by Andrew Russeth)

Appropriately, the room smelled like cotton candy during Will Cotton’s Cockaigne, a performance at Prince George Ballroom on Friday night. The audience arrived early to eat pink cotton candy made by about a dozen young women dressed as ballerinas. They washed it down with champagne. This is the kind of celebratory hedonism we have come to expect and appreciate from Mr. Cotton. It was the artist’s first live stage performance, and he had asked John Zorn to compose music and Charles Askegard to choreograph a dance, all inspired by the fluffy candy the audience was munching on. It was billed as a “short ballet.”

We did not know how short.

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The Story Behind Will Cotton’s Portrait of Katy Perry

Will Cotton's "Cupcake Katy" (2010)

“The only thing that interested me was desire and pleasure,” said Will Cotton, the painter. We were sitting in the Core Club on 55th Street, where Mr. Cotton’s portrait of Katy Perry, Cupcake Katy, is on public view in the lobby. Mr. Cotton was talking about why he started painting hyper-realistic pictures of an apocalyptic Candyland.

“It was in the mid-’90s,” he said. “I was painting a lot of advertising icons like Twinky the Kid and the Pillsbury Dough Boy. I was really into finding a painting iconography that I could relate to. Candyland, the board game that many of us played as children growing up, that’s this place where it’s all about pleasure, all the time. That was the only story I wanted to tell.” Read More