Will Cotton Rides Nation’s Cupcake Craze

Will Cotton has been whipping up confectionary canvases since before reasonable people began lining up to pay $4.50 for softball-sized cupcakes, but the artist’s latest solo exhibition is a timely treat. On view through February 26 at Michael Kohn Gallery in Los Angeles, the show features new paintings that incorporate figures into his signature sugary landscapes as well as several portrait-format works. Cotton painted the models wearing items of clothing that he created, including a dress based on a foil cupcake wrapper and one made of the pleated pastel papers themselves. There’s also a skirt made of cotton candy, candy tiaras, and the fetching croquembouche chapeau pictured at near right.

The exhibition of Cotton’s work comes just as the country’s cupcake craze is reaching a fever pitch, with New York-based Crumbs Bake Shop announcing plans to go public in a $66 million merger deal and L.A.’s Sprinkles continuing its sweet expansion plans into areas already brimming with local cupcakeries. Whether it’s all just a flash in the (baking) pan remains to be seen, but even in the midst of a red velvet backlash, we predict a steady appetite for Cotton’s canvases. “There’s something about sweets and sugar that makes most people’s eyes light up a little bit,” he has said. “It’s just for pleasure, and that’s what I was after. I wanted to make a whole place that’s just about pleasure.”