Celebrating its 40th birthday this month, entertainment network MTV is honoring four decades of music and movie culture with a new Moon Person designed by Los Angeles-born artist Kehinde Wiley. The iconic silver trophy, awarded at MTV’s Video Music Awards event, as seen through Wiley’s lens features an iridescent façade draped with lush green vines and brilliant pink florals
Wiley, the first Black American artist to paint a portrait of a U.S. president, Barack Obama, is the third person requested to recreate the trophy. Through its years of transformation, Brooklyn-based artist KAWS (real name Brian Donnelly) and Moschino‘s creative director Jeremy Scott both created their own versions of the astronaut in 2013 and 2015, sequentially.
The first MTV VMAs event (famed for Madonna‘s performance of “Like a Virgin”) took place in September 1984. Dubbed the Moonman until it was changed to a more gender neutral friendly Moon Person in 2017, the statue was inspired by MTV’s original promotional video showing an animated version of the Apollo 11 space shuttle blasting off from planet earth, followed by an astronaut planting a flag emblazoned with the MTV logo on the moon’s surface.
Inspired by the idea of “claiming uncharted territory,” Manhattan Design, a small New York-based design company, created both the recognizable MTV logo and the moon-landing top-of-the hour animation. The same design team was then assigned the task of designing the VMA trophy. The presented three ideas: a container of popcorn, which was later used for the MTV Movie Awards, a sneaker, and a Moonman.
Wiley’s vine-covered Moon Person will be displayed as a life-sized version at NASA‘s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. The 2021 MTV Video Music Awards will be held on September 12, 2021 at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.