As our financial markets continue to meltdown and our currency is in flux (I recently found myself staring blankly at a $14 Whopper at the Zurich International Airport),Â Mark Wagner seems to be having the time of his life.
Wagner, a collage artist, has been busy cutting up thousands of U.S. one dollar bills and reshuffling the pieces into fantastic works of art.Â Â The meticulousness of these collages is awe-inspiring. Â Just one look and you can see what I am talking about.Â Here’s Riddle of the Sphinx:Â Click for a high resolution scan.
In one of my personal favorites, Marxism, Wagner scrambles the portrait of George Washington into a portrait of Groucho Marx, a clever reduction of our founding father to the father of Duck Soup.
In Bout,Â George Washington is seen in a boxing ring fighting a shadow of himself, which is skillfully constructed by using the shaded parts of a dollar bill. Â It’s a fantastic piece, and I’m sure it’s hanging in some investment banker’s living room right now.Â Click for a high resolution scan.
I love thinking of Mark Wagner sitting in his studio, destroying money like a shredding factory.Â Just the artist, thousands of dollar bills, and a few X-Acto knives.
It reminds me of that guy who discovered that pennies made before 1982 were 95% copper (as opposed to today’s which are 97.5% zinc), so he melted them down and sold the copper and made a fortune.* Of course, the government caught up with him, but there’s something similar going on here.Â Our money is worthless -Â more so every day – so Wagner cuts it up and turns it into art that sells for $20,000 a piece.Â I love it.
*More on the bizarre worthlessness of our currency: Penny Dreadful from The New Yorker.