After banana-saturated photos from the Art Basel in Miami Beach fair have left many of us searching for a definition of what constitutes art, sage advice comes from a surprising source: the freshly released first trailer for Wonder Woman 1984 (hitting theaters in summer 2020).
“It’s all art,” Wonder Woman alter-ego Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) remarks as she and Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) walk past a period-appropriate group of break dancers in Washington D.C.’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. The pair then stop in front of Roy Lichtenstein’s massive aluminum sculpture of a brushstroke.
“That’s just a trash can,” she reassures Trevor, after noticing he’s unsure whether the nearby refuse bin is also part of the installation. (“It’s just a trash can!” he repeats with relief, happy to have not let a highbrow sculpture breakdance right over his head.)
As Trevor wrestles with whether he’s seeing art or garbage, diehard DC Comics fans are wondering why he appears in the Wonder Woman sequel at all, since he died at the end of the first film. Meanwhile, art historians like CUNY Graduate Center professor Michael Lobel are tweeting qualms about why this Lichtenstein sculpture—only installed at the Hirshhorn in 2003, and fabricated in the 1990s—appears in a film set in 1984.
The art-historical inaccuracy surely wouldn’t have slipped past Diana Prince, who was a Louvre curator specializing in ancient Greek and Roman weaponry in the previous Wonder Woman film. Or maybe the temptation of including Lichtenstein, a Pop artist artist who famously drew inspiration from comic strips, was just too great for the DC Comics franchise to ignore.
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