To create the pattern, Cwynar began at the bookshelf, scouring encyclopedias. She picked out the most well-known modern paintings, scanned these reproductions into her computer—stains, spots, and all—and then digitally toyed with the scans in Photoshop. “One thing that’s important to the wallpaper is that you can see the printing dots and textures of the reproductions, so it’s not even about the actual artwork anymore,” Cwynar says. After this digital rearranging, patterns emerged. Trends in the shapes, aesthetics, and depictions of women’s bodies rise to the top of Cwynar’s optics (no doubt due to the era’s most celebrated artists being male).
Though she thinks deeply about trends, Cwynar is not prone to following them in her artistic practice. Citing rose gold accessories and sweatpants as examples, Cwynar investigates the cyclical return of trends, and whether participation in them detracts from the meaning of one’s work—or if it’s inevitable. Who can ever be safe from such influence? The artists in 72 Pictures likely didn’t follow trends consciously, yet their practices bred trends within the global modern art movement. Like decorators who scour archives and museums professionally for inspiration, this isn’t due to a lack of individual perspective as much as proximity and resourcefulness; we are never islands.
When asked if dismantling some of the world’s best-known works was sentimental, Cwynar notes that most viewers interact with reproductions of these pieces already. Andy Warhol’s soup cans, for example, are less likely to be encountered in the flesh than on a stranger’s canvas tote. Ditto a Mondrian composition and a color-block mug at the Met’s gift shop. “It’s about how art gets commodified and recycled into things that can be sold [or] literally placed on something to make it seem like it has a value or an aura,” she says.
“That’s something I think about a lot in my work—how things are changed in meaning and in value after they are touched and understood by other people,” Cwynar adds. “And that’s what trends are too.”
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