Art & Money

Marc Shell, Author
Marc Shell, Author University of Chicago Press $38 (230p) ISBN 978-0-226-75213-6
Reviewed on: 05/29/1995
Release date: 06/01/1995
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Harvard comparative literature professor Shell maintains that art and commerce are inseparably linked. This erudite, anecdotal study begins by investigating early Christianity's ambivalent attitude toward wealth and the material realm, as reflected in the Eucharist wafer (manufactured and understood as ``the coin that is Christ''), the Holy Grail, Roman coins, the art of scribes who wrote inscriptions in golden ink on parchment and the medieval cult of the ``Holy Foreskin'' removed from Jesus's body eight days after his birth, according to Luke. Shell then examines the 19th-century debate between advocates of U.S. paper money and backers of gold specie. He inspects the aesthetics of counterfeiting, the clever art of trompe l'oeil paper money and the ``dematerialization of the artwork'' in minimalist and conceptualist painting and assemblage. More than 100 halftones and nine color plates included here feature works by Andy Warhol, Thomas Nast, Gustav Klimt, Uccello, Joseph Beuys. (June)
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