Curator Darren Pih takes a close look at one of the key artworks in Tate Liverpool's exhibition Transmitting Andy Warhol
In his book The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, the artist declared, ‘Money is the MOMENT to me. Money is my MOOD.’ Simultaneously reinventing and amplifying the symbol of American currency as pop art, Warhol’s Dollar Sign 1982 encapsulates one of the key artistic themes that sustained his practice throughout his career, invoking ideas of aspiration and wealth while conflating banality with the glamour of commodity culture.
At the beginning of the pop era in 1961, Warhol created works depicting the one-dollar bill. Twenty years later, against a different cultural and economic context, he would return to this theme in his Dollar Signs series, exhibited for the first time in January 1982 at Leo Castelli Gallery, New York.
Dollar Sign reflects the glamorous convergence of New York art and pop culture at this time, where the idea of appropriating and repeating ready-made material found expression in pop culture, notably through the use of sampling in hip-hop music. Warhol’s Dollar Sign emblematises this zeitgeist, characterised by the fluid cultural exchanges between high art and mass culture, explosions in new wealth, new processes of mass mediation and the synthesis of art, money and celebrity. Warhol regarded the public sphere as a network providing life support for his images and ideas.
His commitment to infiltrating all areas of media in order to reach the widest possible audience was reiterated in the February 1982 issue of Artforum, in which the Dollar Signs series appeared as a gatefold commission.
Transmitting Andy Warhol runs at Tate Liverpool, 7 November 2014 – 8 February 2015