In 1981 Andy Warhol began a body of work that focused on the dollar sign and resulted in drawings and paintings as well as this series of screen prints titled Dollar Sign.
The Dollar Signs were first exhibited in January 1982 at Leo Castelli Gallery in New York.
Created during a period of American history commonly associated with the commercialism and materialism of the Raegan era, Warhol’s Dollar Signs could not have been more timely or prescient.
Unlike a generation of artists who preceded him, Warhol celebrated money and once stated, “making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”
Warhol once quipped, “I'd asked around 10 or 15 people for suggestions. Finally one lady friend asked the right question, ‘Well, what do you love most?’ That's how I started painting money.” In 1962 his screen printed dollar became the first series in which the artist began to experiment with the screen print process.
Drawing the motif from scratch, Warhol drafted endless dollar signs in different variations. Applying a gestural, expressive technique, this body of work signals the experimentation and painterly approach that came to characterise the artist’s late career paintings.
Andy Warhol embraced mass media and imagery found in advertising, news media, and television. It is fitting then that Arforum published Warhol’s Dollar Signs in 1982 in the form of a gatefold commission.
Warhol was able to distil popular culture, identifying the icons of an age. His Dollar Signs are no different. Here, he paints an icon of American popular culture, a sign that can be seen to signify success, celebrity and glamour, themes that permeate Warhol’s work and career.
When Andy Warhol died, his estate was worth an estimated $100 million dollars. Ever the astute businessman, it is unsurprising that the art-world mega star’s assets were worth a hefty sum.
At the Sotheby’s London Contemporary Art Evening auction in July 2015, Andy Warhol’s Dollar Signs painting from 1981 sold for a total of £9,925,000. The painting depicts four rows of varying dollar sign designs against a duck egg blue backdrop.
Warhol’s Dollar Sign from 1982 was sold at Phillips London on 14th October 2022 for £603,300.