Wu Shaoxiang and the art of money

by Robert Sievert



Never has the relationship between art and money been so amusingly explored than in Wu Shaoxiang's recent show at the Plum Blossoms Gallery. Wu, an artist born in China, migrated to Europe in 1989. Obviously introduced to Europes heady, very progressive art theory he began to make art out of money. At first he began to build sculpture by welding coins together; later he went on to different ploys.

This exhibit "AMoM gninioCCoining MoMA is a series of takeoffs on modern art icons at the Museum of Modern Art. His renditions of Matisse, Brancusi, and Moore are all solid. Mostly built out of Austrian schilling coins, these sculptures maintain a high degree of form, copying the original artist's forms exactly but in a new material: coins. The technique works well and a reclining torso of Henry Moore stands out as a major accomplishment. The coin construction takes on an identity of it's own and one is forced to rethink the icon. A double rendition of Matisse's figure facing the wall is done in both black and gold coins. These two figures are both powerful and elegant.

Then they are the paintings which really entertained me for both their art and concept. Matisse's mural of dancing figures is repainted over a field of one hundred dollar bills with a slice of Coca Cola icon painted at the right side thus marrying Matisse, Money and Corporate life. There is translation as the dancing figures all have Asian faces.

Especially entertaining is WARHOL a painting of his Marilyn Monroe icon painted of a field of loosely collaged one hundred (American) dollar bills(were they real?). This is a step in the iconography of pop art that I'm sure would have interested Andy himself, a notorious maven of art as money.

Plum Blossoms Gallery mission is to make the work of contemporary Asian artists better known in America.


  Copyright © 2002 Robert Sievert