Will Cotton (born 1965 in Melrose, Massachusetts, U.S.) is an American painter. He recieved his BFA in 1987 from Cooper Union in New York City. His work primarily features landscapes composed of sweets, often inhabited by human subjects. Will Cotton lives and works in New York City.
Cotton's works from the 1990s depicted pop icons sourced from contemporary advertisements such as the Nestlé Quick bunny - directly referencing visual modes aimed at evoking desire. Cotton described his early works in a 2008 interview, saying "My initial impulse to make these paintings really came out of an awareness of the commercial consumer landscape that we live in. Every day we're bombarded with hundreds, if not thousands of messages designed specifically to incite desire within us."
In 1996, Cotton began to develop an iconography in which the landscape itself became the object of desire. The paintings often feature scenery made up entirely of pastries, candy and melting ice cream. He creates elaborate maquettes of these settings from real baked goods made in his Manhattan studio as a visual source for the final works. Since about 2002, nude or nearly nude pinup-style models have occasionally populated these candy-land scenes. As in the past, the works project a tactile indulgence in fanciful glut. The female characters are icons of indulgence and languor, reflecting the feel of the landscape itself. "These paintings are all about a very specific place," says Cotton, "It's a utopia where all desire is fulfilled all the time, meaning ultimately that there can be no desire, as there is no desire without lack."
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View synoptic biography below.
2012 WILL COTTON, Mary Boone Gallery, New York, May 3rd - June 23rd.
2012 COCKAIGNE, Performance as part of WERK! Armitage Gone Variety Show, Abrons Arts Center, New York, May 2nd, 4th and 5th.
2011 COCKAIGNE, Performance at Prince George Ballroom as part of Performa 11, New York, November 18th.
2011 WILL COTTON, Michael Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles, January 14 - February 26.
2010 WILL COTTON: New Works on Paper, Baldwin Gallery, Aspen, CO, December 26 - February 12, 2011.
2010 WILL COTTON: Monoprints, Pace Prints Chelsea, New York, May 6 - June 5.
2010 WILL COTTON, Galerie Templon, 30 rue Beaubourg, April 29 - June 19.
2009 WILL COTTON, Mary Boone Gallery, New York. February 19 - March 28.
2008 WILL COTTON, Baldwin Gallery, Aspen, CO, July 25 - September 5.
2007 WILL COTTON: NEW WORK ON PAPER, Glenn Horowitz Bookseller, East Hampton, NY, June 30 - July 31.
2005 WILL COTTON: New Paintings and Works on Paper, Michael Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles, November 4 - December 21.
2004 WILL COTTON, Mary Boone Gallery, New York, September 11 - October 23.
2003 WILL COTTON, Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris, September 13 - October 18.
2003 WILL COTTON, Mario Diacono Gallery, Boston, MA, October 3, 2003.
2002 WILL COTTON, Mary Boone Gallery (Chelsea), New York, September 7 - October 19. Press Release.
2001 WILL COTTON, Jablonka Galerie, Koln, Germany, November.
2001 WILL COTTON, Mary Boone Gallery, New York, March 29 - May 5.
2000 WILL COTTON, Mary Boone Gallery, New York, February 18 - March 18.
DEVIL'S FUDGE FALLS, I-20 Gallery, New York, September 11 - October 9.
1998 WILL COTTON, Silverstein Gallery, New York, November 21 - December 23.
1996 WILL COTTON, Silverstein Gallery, New York, November 16 - December 18.
1995 DISTENTIONS, Silverstein Gallery, New York, September 7 - October 1
2012 Needful Things, Vered Gallery, East Hampton, NY
2012 AMERICAN DREAMERS, Strozzina Centre For Contemporary Culture, Florence, Italy, March 9 - July 15.
2011 TOUS CANNIBALES, La Maison Rouge, Paris, February 12 - May 15
2010 DIVINE COMEDY, Sotheby's, New York, New York, September 30 - October 19.
2010 ACCESSORIES TO AN ARTWORK, Glenn Horowitz Bookseller, East Hampton, New York, August 14 - September 26.
2009 A TRIBUTE TO RON WARREN, Mary Boone Gallery, New York, September 12 - October 24.
2009 TRANSITIONS. PAINTING AT THE (OTHER) END OF ART, Maramotti Collection of Contemporary Art, Reggio Emilia, Italy, May 24 - October 31.
2009 ASPECTS OF POP ART, Galerie Gmurzynska, Zurich, Switzerland, June 1 - September.
2009 CHELSEA VISITS HAVANA, Museo Nacional De Bellas Artes, Havana, Cuba, , March 28 - May 25.
2009 I WANT Candy: The Sweet Stuff in American Art (Travelling Exhibition), Fresno Metropolitan Museum, Fresno, CA, June 26-September 6.
2009 DRAWINGS BY WILL COTTON, Atlantic Center's Pabst Visitor Center and Gallery, New Smyrna, FL, March 28 - June 13.
2009 TALK DIRTY TO ME, Larissa Goldston Gallery, New York, February 26 - March 28.
2008 SECOND BIENNIAL OF THE CANARY ISLANDS, Canary Islands, December 27 - May 5.
2008 WALL ROCKETS: Contemporary Artists and Ed Ruscha, The Flag Art Foundation, New York, curated by Lisa Dennison, October 3 - April 18.
2007 IN MONET'S GARDEN: The Lure of Giverny, Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, OH, October 12 - January 20.
2007 SEX & SENSUALITY, Salomon Contemporary, East Hampton, NY, August 18 - September 3.
2007 A HOUSE IS NOT A HOME, Caren Golden Fine Art, New York, curated by Beth Rudin DeWoody, July 9 - August 17.
2007 I WANT Candy: The Sweet Stuff in American Art, Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, New York, June 16 - September 2.
2007 HORIZON, EFA Gallery, New York, curated by David Humphrey, June 1 - July 27.
2007 TIMER: Intima / Intimacy, La Triennale di Milano, Milan, March 30 - June 10.
2006 THE FOOD SHOW: THE HUNGRY EYE, Chelsea Art Museum, New York, November 16 - February 24.
2004 THE BIG EAT: FROM POP TIL THE PRESENT, Kunsthalle Bielefeld, GERMANY, January 25 - April 25 .Press Release.
2003 GIVERNY, Salon 94, 12 E 94th Street, New York, , July 10 - August 13.
2003 SWEET TOOTH, COPIA, The American Center for Wine Food & the Arts, Napa, CA , January 31- May 12.
2002 THE CONTEMPORARY ART PROJECT, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA, Opening December 19.
2000 EMOTIONAL RESCUE: THE CONTEMPORARY ART PROJECT COALITION, Center on Contemporary Art, Seattle, WA.
2000 THE DARKER SIDE OF PLAYLAND: CHILDHOOD IMAGERY FROM THE LOGAN COLLECTION, San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, CA.
1999 WILL COTTON AND STUART ELSTER, TATE, New York, December 11 - January 22.
1999 A ROOM WITH A VIEW, Sixth @ Prince Fine Art, New York.
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