What is art? Is it squiggles by a 4 year old on a piece of paper that a mother proudly puts up on the refrigerator? Is it the most delicious food on a plate created by a chef?Is Art a moment captured for eternity by the click of a camera button or creating something out of stone, glass, metal, clay? Is it a cartoon on three square bits that says so much with so little? Is it telling a story on film or through music? Is it an ability to excel in making money or being successful irrespective of the field one is in?
Art is man’s attempt to capture on any medium, a bit of his soul, the wonder that is the human mind or the gloriousness that is this earth and everything in it- Art is incredibly subjective.Our focus today is to look at links between money and art.
- Andy Warhol
Money has been linked to art since time immemorial. Many artists have used money-(Currency notes, coins, credit cards,bills etc.)as a medium of expression to explain the influence and the tremendous real power money in today’s world. It translates in art, what an artist sees in the real world as the influence of money from a financial, cultural and social perspective. Andy Warhol, one of the leading figures in the pop art movement, used the iconography of money, using dollar signs, images of currency, and actual dollar bills in his art. His silkscreen work of “200 one dollar bills” sold for $43.8 million in 2009. Andy Warhol also once famously signed across the front of a one dollar bill in black felt tip marker. “By signing a one dollar bill, Warhol effectively defaced it while also tremendously increasing its value, thus generating a tension between artistic and commercial worth.”
- Activism in Art
Money has been used in art as a form of activism. We show here two art-pieces. One representing an ongoing debate in the United States on equal pay for women.
Another one: SuttonBeresCullen, Distribution of Wealth (detail), 2009 – The artists collective cut a stack of 100 $1 bills to depict the proportion of the work’s price received by the artists and their dealer
- JSG Boggs
Sometimes money and art tread a fine line where the law was concerned. J S G Boggs, an American artist is famous for his hand drawn one side depictions of US currency called Boggs Bills. In fact he would use this currency instead of real money for all his transactions. If he drew a $10 note he would use it to buy $10 worth of goods. People would actually accept the Boggs Bills because of its perceived worth. Each $10 note was worth more $1000 dollars in the art market. Boggs never sold his bills but he would let collectors know where he used them. He was arrested twice- once in the UK and once in Australia for counterfeiting but later acquitted as he doesn’t call the Boggs Bills currency but he calls it artworks and exchanges them for goods.
- Street Graffiti
Money has been a part of social ideology spilling over to street-art or graffiti. Above is a part of NY Street Art Project by a photo journalist Alyhan Kimsesizcan. You can talk about capitalism and socialism and write books on them but guess a picture is worth a thousand words?
The reason there’s so much money used as an icon in the art world is because a lot of art-work spells big money for collectors and artists. The art market is highly speculative, its not just demand and supply-the art work’s cultural value , the present price of the product and perceived future valuation all matter.
Art has become an alternative investment option to diversify risks. So it’s not just people who love art who actually collect them.So how does a person invest in art without actually having to buy the artwork? With the introduction of Art Funds, one can invest in the art market without spending millions. An art fund is a privately offered investment fund which generates returns through the acquisition and sale of works of art and is managed by a professional art investment management.
Money and art will continue its love-hate relationship. Art will continue to sell at record prices and with the continuing fascination with money will result in money being used as symbol being used across artworks. Whats YOUR favorite art-work that uses money in some way?
Maya Jain- ExBanker, stock trader, freelance writer, full time mom, book lover, gypsy at heart, travel aficionado, a budding gardener who just about manages not to kill her plants and lover of life!