Artist Daniel Edwards has made waves for his hyper-real depictions of nude pregnant women in the past, particularly for his 2006 piece "Monument To Pro-Life," which rendered Britney Spears mid-birth on a bearskin rug. Though a cynic might peg his work as an elegant satire on voyeuristic, celebrity-obsessed culture, we're not so sure if the L.A.-based sculptor would agree: "I was inspired by the beauty of Kim Kardashian and felt quite put-off by the media's criticism of her weight gain during pregnancy. Such criticism should be off limits," Edwards said in a recent press release. And, in the words of the artist's publicist, "We live in a media-absorbed culture where anyone can access and share a celebrity's most intimate moments. Daniel visually captures that intimacy."
While we couldn't agree more that the amount of scrutiny surrounding celebrity pregnancies and their bodies is ridiculous to say the least (vulgar and degrading at its worst), we're not sure if this is really a step in the right direction. Art is art, and we're not objecting to it. But, if his goal is truly to relieve the pressure of the media on Ms. Kardashian during this sensitive time — is creating a public, nude statue of her pregnant body without her permission or involvement really the way to go? As far as we know, neither Kardashian nor Spears were involved with the creation of the two works, and while it may have greater cultural capital, if Mr. Edwards wants to invoke morals, we're not sure if he has much ground to stand on.
Upon the unveiling of the sculpture at L.A.'s LAB ART Gallery on June 5, visitors will be invited to rub the statue's belly for good luck. Pause. The exhibit will also include a bronze of "Baby Kimye" itself. Prenatal portraits of celebrity fetuses with angel wings, entitled "Womb Mates," will also be on display. The Kim Kardashian statue, titled "L.A. Fertility" is part of the artist's "Celebrity Baby Boomer" series. While it may be representative of a niche art trend that pairs high-brow intellectual work with pop culture — the intention, and the reception, remains up for debate.
Photo: Courtesy of Cory Allen Contemporary Art.