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