Van Gogh’s Sunflowers was sold at auction in 1987 for the then record price for any artwork of £24.5 million. Finn-Kelcey thought that the fact that ‘most artists are unable to make a living out of their work struck me as ironic.[...] I realised that here was the imagery that would allow me to bring together both the material and the conceptual.’
The installation’s title and the coins that make its image, alongside the original sale of the painting, depict an idea of exchange value. The introduction of surveillance into the installation emphasises this value and locates the work somewhere between installation and performance, adding a further layer of meaning. Different ways of looking or assessing value are indicated not just by the theatrical lighting rig, the CCTV monitoring of the coin-image, or the presence of a uniformed guard, but also by the viewing platform (like an auctioneer’s podium) which is the only way that the installation can properly be observed by the visitor.
Curated by Andrew Wilson, assisted by Lauren Greenwood
You can see Sunflowers and more of Van Gogh's works in Van Gogh and Britain in Tate Britain until 11 August 2019.