Will Cotton (born 1965 in Melrose, Massachusetts, U.S.A.) is an American painter whose 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. 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 an 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. “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.”