LONDON - U.S. paper currency is about to change in a big way. Move over Alexander Hamilton, you are being bumped off. A woman will soon feature on U.S. bank notes for the first time in 150 years after a successful campaign to celebrate the anniversary of female suffrage. But the surprise decision comes with a catch: whoever is chosen will have to share the honour with a man. Sotheby’s has spoken, loud and clear. We are campaigning for Andy Warhol to feature on the dollar bill. Take notice President Barack Obama.
Warhol is an obvious choice for the face of the dollar bill. His love for the dollar sign is well documented. “I like money on the wall." He famously said in 1975. Warhol created an array of works depicting the ultimate symbol of status and wealth. Significantly, money was the first subject that Warhol screenprinted onto canvas in 1962, as he discovered what would become his trademark technique.
Andy Warhol, $ (4) (see F. & S. IIA.281-282). The complete set, comprising two screenprints in a unique combination of colours, 1982. Estimate £100,000–150,000.
Following Warhol’s lead, works by Keith Haring further emphasise the US dollar’s symbolic stake and a global dialogue between culture and capital in 1986.
Keith Haring, Andy Mouse. Screenprint in colours, 1986. Estimate £15,000–20,000.
In his portrayal of Andy as Mickey Mouse, Haring accorded Warhol iconic status, saying:
“It’s like treating him like he was part of American culture, like Mickey Mouse was. That he himself had become a symbol, a sign for something complete, universally understandable. He sort of made this niche for himself in the culture. As much as Mickey Mouse had…putting him on a dollar bill was just making him even more like an icon or part of the American dream.”
Warhol and Haring’s depiction of the dollar bill is the ultimate response to, and expression of, consumer culture and art. Warhol made the dollar bill an inextricable part of his brand image as an artist; it is time for the dollar bill to stake its claim on Warhol as an icon.