Sara Cwynar is interested in how design and popular images work on our psyches, in how visual strategies infiltrate our consciousness. In her book “Kitsch Encyclopedia” (2013), she considers how familiar, sentimental images smooth over unpleasant realities, to cover up “the systems of control embedded within our social, economic, and political lives.”

Cwynar uses dated commercial images to expose the failure, with time, of their visual trickery and the waning of their seductive powers. Her works highlight how the once familiar becomes foreign; how the fetishized object loses its luster; how glamour fades.

Among her key works are essay-style films, incorporating performance and text; sculptural constructions that are photographed, printed, tiled, and re-photographed; images taken from darkroom manuals that are deconstructed using a scanner; and stock photographs that are collaged by hand and then re-photographed. Her process is, in a sense, circular: she begins and finishes with a photograph after a journey of intervention and manipulation that disrupts the smooth surface and perspective of the original.

Sara Cwynar (Vancouver, BC, Canada, 1985) currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She holds an MFA from Yale University, New Haven, CT; a Bachelor of Design from York University, Toronto, ON, Canada; and studied English Literature at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Selected exhibitions include: “Sara Cwynar,” The approach, London, UK (solo)(2020); “Sara Cwynar,” The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT (solo)(2019); “Image Model Muse,” Milwaukee Museum of Art, WI, and Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, MN (solo)(2018-2019); "Tracy,” Oakville Galleries, Oakville, ON, Canada (solo); 33rd Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil (both 2018); “Soft Film,” MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, Germany (solo); “Subjektiv,” Malmö Konsthall, Sweden; “You Are Looking at Something That Never Occurred,” Zabludowicz Collection, London, UK (all 2017); and “Greater New York,” MoMA PS1, Queens, NY (2015-2016). In 2019 MoMA New York commissioned Cwynar to make a series of films that stream on the museum’s website and social media platforms.

Cwynar’s works are in the permanent collections of the Guggenheim Museum, New York; MoMA, New York; MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt; SFMOMA, San Francisco; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Minneapolis Institute of Art; Dallas Museum of Art; Milwaukee Art Museum; Fondazione Prada, Milan; Kadist Art Foundation, San Francisco; Zabludowicz Collection, London; Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City; and FOAM Photography Museum, Amsterdam.




Selected Bibliography

Smith-Stewart, Amy. “Interview with Sara Cwynar.” Sara Cwynar: Gilded Age. Ridgefield: The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, 2019.

Dolfi Agostini, Sara. Good Life, Sara Cwynar. Valletta: Blitz, 2019.

Olson, Carly. “How One Artist Uses Wallpaper to Talk About Beauty.” Architectural Digest, Architectural Digest, 15 Aug. 2019. Web.

Valluzzo, Andrea. “Sara Cwynar Explores Power of Imagery at the Aldrich in 'Gilded Age'.” The Wilton Bulletin, Ridgefield Press, 8 Aug. 2019. Web.

Heinrich, Will. “Art: Reflecting on Sara Cwynar’s ‘Rose Gold’ and More.” The New York Times. 5 Mar. 2019. Web.

Karp-Evans, Elizabeth. “Sara Cwynar Investigates our Inability to be Original.” Cultured Magazine. 2019. Web.

Greenberger, Alex. "A Market of the Senses: Sara Cwynar Finds Truths and Untruths in Advertising.” ARTNews. 21 Nov. 2018. Web.

Cwynar, Sara. Interview by Gabriel Ritter "Sara Cwynar’s Contemporary Nostalgia: On the occasion of her solo exhibition in Minneapolis, the Canadian artist speaks about color and consumerism in the information age." Aperture. 3 Oct. 2018. Web.

Greenberger, Alex. "Beg, Borrow, Steal: With Several Exhibitions Involving Appropriation, New York Has a Second ‘Pictures’ Moment." ARTNews. 21 Aug. 2017. Web.

Vogel, Wendy. "Sara Cwynar, Rose Gold: On the politics of colour in beauty products." ArtReview. June 2017. Web.

Wiley, Chris, et al. “A roundtable discussion hosted by Chris Wiley, with Lucas Blalock, Sara Cwynar and Erin Shirreff.” You Are Looking at Something That Never Occurred. Ed. Paul Luckraft. London: Zabludowicz Art Projects, 2017: 16-25.

Schwendener, Martha. "Sara Cwynar." The New York Times. 12 May 2017. C20.

Abrams, Loney and Will Fenstermake. "10 Artists to Watch this May." Artspace. 11 May 2017. Web.

Liberty, Megan N. "The Color Palette of Materialism, from Rose Gold iPhones to Millennial Pink Shopping Bags: In her latest exhibition, Sara Cwynar probes our complicated relationship with image-saturated advertising.” Hyperallergic. 1 May 2017. Web.

"Sara Cwynar." The New Yorker. 1 May 2017: 6

Scott, Andrea K. "An Artist’s Meditation on Color Reveals a Secret History of Film". The New Yorker. 30 Apr. 2017. Web.

Trouillot, Terence. "10 Contemporary Artists Taking Photography in New Directions." artnet News, 27 APR. 2017. Web.

Miller, Leigh Anne. "The Lookout: Sara Cwynar." Art in America. 14 Apr. 2017. Web.

Stamler, Hannah. "Critics' Picks: New York: Sara Cwynar." Artforum. 21 Apr. 2017. Web.

Cwynar, Sara. “Soft Film.” Canadian Art. Fall 2016: 134-139.

Gittlen, Ariela. "Sara Cwynar: Between Photography and Design.” Modern Painters. 19 Feb. 2016. Web.

Cwynar, Sara. Interview Magazine. 2 Dec. 2015. Web.

McNelis, Ashley & Legacy Russell. "Sara Cwynar: The origins of nostalgia and some theoretical foundations of photography." BOMB Magazine. 17 Feb. 2015. Web.

Bouthillier, Rose. "Sara Cwynar: Flat Death." C Magazine. Sept. 2014: 55-56.

Cattelan, Maurizio. "Show Your True Colors. An Interview with Sara Cwynar by Maurizio Cattelan." Muse Magazine. 11 Aug. 2014. Web.

Sutton, Kate. "Sara Cwynar. Foxy Production, New York." Frieze. 164. June-July 2014: 216.

Smith, Roberta. "Sara Cwynar: Flat Death." The New York Times. 25 Apr. 2014: C30.

Heinrich, Will. "Sara Cwynar: Flat Death.” GalleristNY. 30 Apr. 2014. Web.

"Sara Cwynar Makes Something New From Anything Old." Phaidon. 16 Apr. 2014. Web.

Abeles, Michele, et al. “Recording Images: A Round-Table Interview Curated by Lauren Cornell with Michele Abeles, Sara Cwynar, Jon Rafman & Travess Smalley.” Mousse. 43. Apr. 2014: 238-252.

Bohnacker, Siobhan. “Sara Cwynar at Foxy Production." The New Yorker. 3 Apr. 2014. Web.

Linton, Jackie. "The Recurring Sara Cwynar.” Interview Magazine. 4 Apr. 2014. Web.

Schreck, Christopher and Sara Cwynar. “Expanding on Kitsch.” Aperture. 3 Apr. 2014. Web.

Wood, Betty. “At Work: Sara Cwynar.” Port Magazine. May 2013. Web.

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