21 August 2011

When art is money and money is art

Works of art are worth as much as the highest bidder would pay for them at auction (or the price set by the artist and paid by the buyer).

Denis Beaubois is a Sydney artist who is auctioning a pile of cash a sculptural object. From his website
The Currency project is the first work in a series that looks at money as an architecture of possibility. Twenty thousand dollars, consisting of one hundred dollar bills, will be presented as a simple sculptural object to be auctioned through a fine art auction house. The material/money for the work has been sourced from a “New Work Established grant“ from the Visual Arts and Craft section of the Australia council for the Arts.

All currency used in the creation of the work will not be altered or modified and will retain its potential function and value as currency. However each hundred dollar bill will have its serial number recorded to validate it as an authentic part of the work, thereby instilling a cultural value on top of the financial value. The tension between the economic value of the material against the cultural value of the art object will be explored through the process of the financial transaction.
The work will be auctioned by Deutscher and Hackett and its catalogue notes
Currency, poses fundamental questions about value and values. These questions are not so new: artists have been posing them for generations. In the twentieth century we have seen the ‘readymades’ by Marcel Duchamp, the use of non-art materials in Arte Povera, Campbell’s Soup cans as ‘high art’ via Andy Warhol, or Jasper Johns’ Painted Bronze of the 1960s where the artist disguises the high art material of bronze by painting it to give the illusion of a humble coffee tin full of used paint brushes.

Simply, the value of an art object is subjective and often it greatly exceeds its material value. Yet, the face value of currency tends to decline with time and inflation, unless of course the banknotes gain ‘collector value’ in the world of numismatics, or become ‘collectable’ in the art market.
The art doesn't stop with the object itself. The auction itself would have to be part of the art.

Sydney Exhibition
thursday 18th to tuesday 23rd august
11am to 6pm
55 oxford St (cnr pelican st)
surry hills 2010
ph: 02 9297 0600

Melbourne Exhibition
thursday 25th to tuesday 30th august
11.00 am - 6.00 pm
105 commercial road
south yarra 3141
ph: 03 9865 6333

wed 31st august
to be held at Melbourne address

See reporting in The Age by Giles Hardie and Kylie Northover.  As Hardie noted
So the Government gave Beaubois currency to purchase currency to be sold for currency, as art.
How much is money worth? Most people would try and bid less than the face value of the currency. How many would actually pay more than what the pile of cash is worth?  In the name of art.

No comments: