The Swatch Collages were created using a simplified process that could allow anyone, with the patience to carefully cut and glue down squares, to make one; thus, the project intentionally undermines hierarchies between observer and artist. These works are built, using one inch squares, from obsolete art history texts. By taking advantage of the formal qualities, such as, color, shape, and brushwork, I free ride on the backs of famous artists to create unique works. This process has been refined into a computer program in order to allow the viewer to construct their own pieces. Special thanks should go to Mike Marcotte who designed the code for this part of the project. These pieces often betray the overall formal choices of these famous artists and can lead to surprising results. Who knew Monet had such a dark palette?
We only see fraction of popular artworks in person, yet, through reproductions, we feel intimately acquainted with these and other works. I have often been struck by the contrast between what I imagined my experience to be and my actual perception of an artwork when confronted with the real thing. I cannot describe how underwhelmed I was when I first saw Dali’s “Persistence of Memory.” I had always thought it to be two to three times the size. Where did I get this idea? My best guess is that I was led astray by the dorm posters, sold as decorations, on college campuses.
Our view of the art world is funneled through a lens of photographs that are printed in books, shown on computer screens, and impressed on posters. Subtle color changes, cropping, enlargement, and diminution can change the way we see art pieces. That qualities of printed art can influence our understanding of a masterpiece is not a new idea, but what intrigues me is how the selections for text books might reinforce the fame of certain artists and certain works. We are led to believe that the formal qualities alone recommend some artwork over others, but, more often than not, other factors, such as, associations, gallerists, demeanor, and geography, help determine the future of our aesthetic heroes. One of these factors is surely the ubiquity of certain artists and artworks in advertisements, books, posters, and the web.