Ten Dollar Bill, also known as ‘The Dollar Bill’, is a 1956 pre-pop lithographic drawing by Roy Lichtenstein. Revealing visual qualities appropriated from traditional Americana paintings as well as Cubism, the print constitutes one of Lichtenstein's first imitations. The piece is based on the actual design of the ten-dollar bill, invoking both its dimensions and rectangular framework. This print is one of the artist's early black and white single object prints that set out to satirise an American icon.
The work’s exterior is simplified, enveloping a shuffled composition of letters and fantastical shapes within its confines. Ten Dollar Bill presents a Picasso-esque vision of the original illustration seen on American currency. Liechtenstein in this work refashions the medallion portrait of Alexander Hamilton printed on the bank note. Ten Dollar Bill’s Hamilton is rendered in profile, his features flattened and amorphic.
In a sense, this finely drawn image is a humorous pre-pop counterfeit. Lichtenstein invokes a radical flatness and sketch-like qualities through careful tracing and contouring. He offers an ultimate parody of both fine art and consumer culture. The artist went on to tackle countless emblems and symbols throughout his career, including the American flag. Therefore, this work is considered an intriguing precursor to Lichtenstein’s subsequent aesthetic development.