Mark Wagner: currency collage, click for larger view
Definitely, click for larger view!

Click for larger view.

Click for larger view.

Click for larger view.


Click for larger view.


MARK WAGNER IS THE KIND OF ARTIST I LIKE. HIS OBSESSIVE FOCUS on the dollar bill as raw material for his mysterious and powerful collages is apparently driven from an intense desire to reconstruct and reconfigure existing things. While many collage artists use materials from many different sources, Wagner focuses his vision on careful cutting and rearranging the greenback. And this art is not small! An average size for these piece is 24 to 36 inches and larger. Recently, Wagner completed a life-size collage of a female nude entitled Fortune’s Daughter, made entirely from legal tender.

Over the years, there has been a fascination with altering currency, especially coins. During the Great Depression, homeless men would alter the face of the American buffalo nickel by cutting away parts of the face, scratching and etching into the silver to create a “new” image. By doing so, these “hobo nickels” became more valuable than the 5¢ it was originally worth. An altered nickel became something of interest, a curio, and I suppose might have been traded at a local diner for lunch. Today, there are hobo nickel enthusiasts who take the art form quite a bit farther—thanks to modern power tools like the Dremel.

With the economic recent collapse, Mark Wagner’s currency collages have become beautiful symbols, worth far more than the number of greenbacks it took to make them.

Mark Wagner’s creative career includes writing, collage, and bookmaking. He is co-founder (and currently president) of The Brooklyn Artists Alliance, and has published books under the name Bird Brain Press.

Wagner’s work is collected by dozens of institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, The Walker Art Center, the Library of Congress, and the Smithsonian Institution. It has shown at The Metropolitan Museum, The Getty Research Institute, The Venice Biennial, and The Brooklyn Museum.

Wagner’s work is represented by the Pavel Zoubok Gallery in New York.

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