A Brief History of Money and Religion

In 1968 Mies van der Rohe arrived in New York and built the first modernist building in America. The Seagrams Building is constructed from the products of the industrial world: iron and glass. This building represents a new kind of temple - a temple to industrialization, and therefore to commerce. Reference to the Parthenon is distinctly absent.

In the 1950s and 1960s, money became plastic and electronic - further "dematerialized." Credit cards were experimental in the 1950s and in wide use by the mid 1960s. Charge account banking was initiated by the Franklin Bank of New York in 1952. Bankamericard, the charge card as its known today, was introduced in California in 1959.[26]

Andy Warhol, 1962, Two Dollar Bills, Front and Back. This is Warhol's first silk screened painting. Once again, but in a whole new capacity, money is art. Pop Art abolished transcendence: art and life become one.[27] Warhol introduced the idea of Duchamp's ready mades to painting. As money has become increasingly dematerialized, in Warhols' work, so has painting. This work confirms high art's industrialization through the infusion of commercial design devices.[28] The painter's hand doesn't paint the painting: the painting is mechanically produced. This produces a work that is both original, a reproduction and neither.[29]

Warhol uses mechanical reproduction and icons of everyday culture, which now means icons of commerce as opposed to religious icons, to comment on a completely secular, commerce-driven society.[30]

Why does this materialism emerge in post-war American art? Taylor argues that the development of the New York gallery system, the growth of the advertising industry and mass media, and an increse in discretionary income all lead to the "commodification of art." Art becomes a repository of excess wealth. The accumulated capital invested in art results in art's increased value. Art is no longer a source of spiritual value, as its worth is established by the market place. As art becomes a business, business becomes an art. These developments are inseparably interrelated. The commodification of the work of art reflects and extends the aestheticization of the commodity. Economics and art become increasingly interwined.[31]