Thursday, 1 December 2011

Bite 147: Andy Warhol - Dollar Sign, 1981

Dollar Sign, 1981, synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen inks on canvas, 228.6 x 177.8 cm, Private Collection
"Money doesn't mind if we say it's evil, it goes from strength to strength. It's a fiction, an addiction, and a tacit conspiracy."
                                                                                - Martin Amis
A work of simple honesty, presenting art as the deceit it too often becomes reduced to, a purely commercial venture. This is art as Warhol saw it: Opportunity.

Could Warhol have chosen a single symbol more loaded with meaning for our society? The double image hovers in green space, an apparition by which our lives are dictated if we let it. Purely a concept, non-existent and slippery, a dominant, moving goal.

Perhaps this work should be titled £1,553,250, the price 'realised' for this work when sold at auction by Christie's in June 2008. In reaching this sum, becoming part of a private collection, long after the artists' death, the work achieves its true conceptual potential; an irony but also a celebration of money itself. There is a reason Warhol remains so attractive to a wealthy, collecting audience of claimed art-lovers - making up a staggering 20% of the contemporary art market: the world he presents is not only unthreatening to those in the 1%, but glorifying of the trivialities that come with excessive monetary power.