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By C. Antonio Romero

NEW YORK, 19 MAY 2008-Sculptor Daniel Edwards' last treatment of Oprah Winfrey (or her sarcophagus) as a plump, sexy knockoff of the Goddess of Willendorf was another in a series of inspired creations playing upon a collision of classical or historical antecedents and the current American deification of pop culture icons, that can be appreciated at many levels by those who catch his references. Alas, his latest, Memories of Sophie and Gracie: A Puppies' Memorial is an unusually clumsy re-treading upon ground he's trodden too recently.

A rather eyebagged burial mask of Oprah Winfrey, unmistakably a play on the well-known Tutankhamun death mask, looks too much like a discarded study from the preparations for the recent Oprah Sarcophagus . Sticking an Oprah "O" on top of the head of the Goddess, as shown in some images of the mask, would have been clever - the shape reminds one of the sun disk often shown on the heads of Egyptian gods and goddesses, for example.

Daniel Edwards: Oprah Burial Mask with O
Life size, Resin Cast, 2008
Photo courtesy of Leo Kesting Gallery

The dog statues, however, are an absurd graft. Not entirely out of place, as an echo of the vulture and cobra on the pharaoh's crown and death mask, they nonetheless look cheap and ridiculously tacked on. One could take this as an attempt to lampoon the sentimentality around pets in the U.S. - but somehow this explanation is no more convincing than the idea of these animals as a warning about accidental pet poisoning. The dogs look cheap and sloppily executed, not so much absurd as just ridiculous, with none of Edwards' usual reach for something greater than his parodic subject in his artwork.

Daniel Edwards: Memories of Sophie and Gracie: A Puppies' Memorial
Life size, Resin Cast, 2008
Photo courtesy of Leo Kesting Gallery

It really looks like he's rummaging through his cast-offs in search of a new pretext for a press release and art auction, before taking his summer break - which will probably be underwritten by the sale of the statue. Of course, it bears noting that we're talking about Edwards again, so perhaps this piece is not a total failure.

Daniel Edwards - Memories of Sophie and Gracie: A Puppies' Memorial
May 22 - June 8, 2008
Leo Kesting Gallery
812 Washington Street
New York NY 10014
Tel: (1) 917 650 37 60

C. Antonnio Romero is the nouveau editor of

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