(OPE-L) art and money

From: Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM
Date: Wed Nov 17 2004 - 15:23:23 EST

Katy Siegel and Paul Mattick (2004) _Art Works: Money_. New York:
Thames & Hudson

At first glance, this looked like just  another art text.  Something
caught my eye, though, when I saw a copy in a pile at a used 
bookstore on 12th Street.  One of the authors was Paul Mattick.
Do you suppose, I asked myself, that it is the same Paul Mattick
who is a former member of OPE-L?  Indeed it is.  The co-author,
Katy Siegel, is an Associate Professor of art history and 
criticism at Hunter College in New York City.

This is a truly subversive text.  It seeks, more by pictures than 
by words,  to critique the role of money in bourgeois society
via an exposition and critique of the role and functions of money 
as seen by artists -- both radical and mainstream.  The
art presented is mostly in the form of  the graphic arts but
there is also sculpture, poetry, etc.. Graphically, this is a 
gorgeous book.  That's one of the reasons it is potentially very

There is, of course, text as well -- especially in the 'Entrance'
(or introduction)  on "Art and Money" and a talk (interview) with the 
authors and four artists (Rainer Ganahl, Raymonde Moulin, Lane 
Relyea, Richard Shiff) at the end of the book.  In between there 
are seven "rooms" (or chapters):

Room 1:   Precious Material
Room 2:   Credit
Room 3:   Production
Room 4:   Store
Room 5:   Circulation
Room 6:   Business
Room 7:   Alternatives

Without hitting the readers over the head with unnecessary verbiage, 
a Marxist critique of money is presented.  The format of the book 
encourages one to not merely read the content but to study and 
ponder the images -- many of which are very powerful.

Of course, one expects a book co-authored by Paul Mattick 
to mention Karl Marx.  The influence of Marx can be seen indirectly
(e.g. in the quote from 'Timon of Athens', Act 4, Scene 3, on gold
that Marx reproduces in Volume One of _Capital_) and more
directly in 'Book 7' where a number of graphic works by Rainer 
Ganahi on Marx and _Capital_ and people in 4 countries "Reading Karl 
Marx" are presented.   Of course, there is a quotation from 
Volume 1 as well -- the one which ends "The expropriators are
expropriated."  In Room 7 there are also some very powerful 
images of class struggle in the form of pictures by Jeremy Dellier
from the 1983 strike in Yorkshire, England, by the National
Union of Mineworkers.

This book is to be part of a series: forthcoming titles include
"Autobiography", "Memory", "Perform", "Place", "Touch", and

This would be an excellent choice for a text for some cultural
studies and cross-disciplinary courses.  It might even be used
as an unconventional, supplementary text in a course on 
monetary theory -- particularly if you have a lot of art students.
I might even use it next year for a class I teach at Pratt
Institute on "Capitalism & Socialism."    Or, it would make a fine 
gift indeed for someone who has artistic interests -- especially if 
that person is political.   Or, you could just get a copy and keep it 
on the desk in your office as a means for stimulating student 
interaction and feedback.

The book is a paperback and the price is US$29.95.  For information 
on ordering, see:

In solidarity, Jerry

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