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Wonder Woman 1984

Wonder Woman 1984 & Trash Cans as Art

I always love a good, silly art joke in movies — especially when it features Chris Pine! This almost seems to be a running joke when looking at Chris Pine’s previous comical confusion over modern art in This Means War too (see my old post on the Klimt scene!). I watched Wonder Woman 1984 last week when the movie finally released in theatres, and it was an incredibly wonderful movie, of course! For all of Steve Trevor’s (played by Chris Pine) fish-out-of-water moments, my favourite is still his moment of appreciation of a trash can…

In the snippet of the art scene (at the 2:12 mark) featured in the first WW84 trailer, Diana Prince (played by Gal Gadot) shows Steve Trevor around a 1984 Washington D.C. As Diana currently works at The Smithsonian as an anthropologist, it’s very fitting that she brings Steve to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, which is the modern and contemporary art museum ‘arm’ of the Smithsonian. (I had to research all this!)

Roy Lichtenstein, Brushstroke, 1996
Roy Lichtenstein, Brushstroke, 1996, enlarged and fabricated 2002-03. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, Joseph H. Hirshhorn Purchase Fund, 2002

I went to look up the actual artwork that was featured in the scene, and it turns out to be a Lichtenstein Brushstroke sculpture that in fact belongs to the Hirshhorn! See my Sculptures on the Street post for more of the Brushstroke sculptures as seen in Singapore’s Suntec City! Some art critics have critically pointed out the fact that Brushstroke was made some time past 1984… but why pass up the chance to feature art in pop culture!

Steve didn’t have much to say about the massive public sculpture, and Diana had to explain to him that ‘it’s all art’. That makes sense to me, since Steve died back in 1918 when the First World War ended, so he wouldn’t have seen art like this before… But what really cracks me up is how he was considering a trash can! A guy living in the 1910s surely wouldn’t have the sensibilities to think a trash can as an artwork — or even anyone living in the 1980s, I think. This feels like a 21st century or 2010s joke, more like!

Let me present some examples of trash bags as art: see Gavin Turk’s Refuse (go here) and American Bag (go here) in Art Basel Hong Kong, and more recently, there was a gold-coated dustbin as seen at S.E.A. Focus (go here).

Art or jokes aside, I really loved how Steve gestured with a hand above the trash can in relief like, let it stay a trash can!

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