A Brief History of Money and Religion

Harnett used counterfeiting as a metaphor for the power of illusionism, for its illicitness. Because of these paintings, Harnett was arrested for counterfeiting and stopped making the money paintings shortly thereafter.

John Haberle, c.1888, Can You Break a Five?. The work of Harnett's contemporary, John Haberle, presents the deception and unmasks it at the same time. Critics considered illusionism "artistically illegal" for being a mere imitation rather than somehow transendent.[20] Haberle acknowledged this in his painting, Reproduction, in which he refers to himself in the paper clippings as a counterfeiter. The second clipping reads, "P.T. Barnum's Humbug." This refers to the criticism of illusionist painting as low art, parallel to Barnum's museum-like amusement centers.[21]

1913: The Ford Motor Company's magneto assembly line - commerce and the economy based on it have taken a new turn. America moves into the Age of Mass Production.

Joseph Stella, 1917, Brooklyn Bridge. As an increasingly complex economy and system of commerce spawns industrialization, industrialization itself becomes a theme of high art.

Marcel Duchamp, 1917, Fountain. Commerce is art. Rather than simply serving as a theme of high art, the mass produced object, the product of an industrial economy, is art. Paintings to the glory of God seem long gone.

An editorial titled, "The Richard Mutt Case," appeared in defense of this particular piece immediately after Duchamp unsuccessfully attempted to show it in a gallery. The defense was as follows: "Whether Mr. Mutt with his own hands made the fountain or not has no importance. He CHOSE it. He took an ordinary article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view -- he created a new thought for that object." [22] Taylor calls this "fiat art" or art by the arbitrary act of the artist.