George Washington, Albert Einstein, Duke Ellington, Benjamin Franklin, and—Katy Perry? What the notable historic figures have in common is that their portraits hang on the walls of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. And this month, Perry will join their ranks when one of the museum’s newest acquisitions, an oil-on-linen painting of Katy Perry called Cupcake Katy, goes on display. The witty portrait is by famed academic artist Will Cotton who worked with the superstar as the artistic director of her “California Gurls” music video and created the cover art used on her Teenage Dream album. Cotton designed the cupcake wrapper dress which which was constructed by Cynthia Rowley. He playfully has called Perry, ““Queen Katy of Candy Land.”
“Katy Perry comes from an American tradition of strong women entertainers who have ‘turned the tables’ on their audiences by challenging the supposedly superficial representation of their pop personas. On a closer look, they are complex figures: musically powerful, visually alluring and business savvy,” says gallery director Kim Sajet in a statement. “Will Cotton’s tongue-in-cheek portrait of Katy as a ‘cupcake’ brings to mind a traditional European portrait of a bewitching 18th-century belle—Madame de Pompadour perhaps?—butter melts in neither of their mouths. Sweet but no mere piece of ‘candy,’ the woman is accessorized but not labeled: she’s the one in control.”
Perry’s portrait will be on display in the gallery from June 18, which means the “Firework” singer can visit it when her Prismatic World tour makes a stop at Verizon Center in D.C. on June 24 and 25.