10:00am PT by Chris Gardner
Kanye West Life-Size Crucifixion Sculpture Installed on Hollywood Boulevard
Kanye West has been immortalized in a giant gold Jesus sculpture by the street artist known, coincidentally, as Plastic Jesus — the L.A.-based provocateur whose work often comments on news events, pop culture and politics.
The sculpture just got a rogue unveiling on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and La Brea Avenue on Feb. 22. It casts West as Jesus during the crucifixion, with nails in his hands and a wreath around his head, but is updated with bling around the neck.
The sculpture is part of a series of free-standing pieces that Plastic Jesus has dropped in and around the Oscars. In 2015, he created a life-size Oscar statue snorting cocaine on all fours. His other works have included an Oscar statue with a heroin need in its arm — inspired by the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman — and a graffiti piece with Lance Armstrong cycling while attached to an IV bag.
In a phone interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Plastic Jesus says the piece is titled "False Idol," and was inspired by the way in which the media and the general public treat West.
"He's a genius at writing and producing but he's not a God, and that's where we put him. Until there's an issue in his life or a hiccup in his career, then we crucify him," explains the photojournalist turned artist, who cites West's controversial statements, recent breakdown and hospitalization as reasons for his public fall from grace. "We've seen it before with people like Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan. The same people who put him into a God-like place are the same yapping at his heels for a piece of flesh when something happens."
Plastic Jesus admits that he's "an admirer" of Kanye both musically and creatively. "The piece is intended to be as critical of us as consumers and the media as it is of Kanye himself. We've created this idol from somebody who is clearly talented," he says.
As for how much money he spent to create the piece, Plastic Jesus said he couldn't estimate the final tally. What he did reveal though is that it's a collaboration with a Las Vegas-based artist named Ginger who is best known for creating the giant naked Donald Trump statues that appeared in Seattle, New York, San Francisco, Cleveland and L.A. in August.
"I approached him and he made the head for [Kanye]," says Plastic Jesus, who plans to move "False Idol" from the street to Gibson Brands in the former Tower Records space on Sunset Boulevard for his Feb. 25 art show with Billy Morrison titled, "Anesthesia: The Art of Oblivion." That show runs from 12-9 p.m.
"I would say the message is this: By all means, treat and respect these people are artists, but don't make them into gods — because we crucify our gods," he declares.
No word yet on how West feels about the statue, though it's possible he may appreciate the reference. He has a track on his 2004 album, College Dropout, titled "Jesus Walks," and on his 2013 Yeezus tour, he even brought a Jesus look-alike onstage with him while he performed the song. He also posed as Jesus for a Rolling Stone cover.
A version of this story first appeared in the Feb. 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.