Dustin Yellin Paints With $10,000 in Shredded Cash for Spring/Break Art Fair

Dustin Yellin
Photo: Billy Farrell/BFA

Artist Dustin Yellin isn’t afraid to break the law, illegally shredding $10,000 in the name of arts education for the SPRING/BREAK Art Show. (Destroying currency is against the law, so don’t try this at home.)

The stunt, perfectly timed for Armory Week, is sure to ruffle feathers as the art world, open wallet in hand, descends on New York. For “The Riches of God’s Love unto the Vessels of Mercy,” the artist has created eight paintings from the ruined remains of a $10,000 donation, reports the New York Observer.

Though it may seem like an extravagant waste of money even by art world standards, Yellin will actually break even if just one of the paintings sells—each of the eight canvases is priced at $10,000. With the proceeds, he plans to create eight grants for high school seniors studying art.

Taking his inspiration from the fair’s theme, “Transaction,” Yellin, the founder of Red Hook’s Pioneer Works, withdrew the money from the bank and, with the blessing of his anonymous benefactor, ran it through a woodchipper. He assembled the finished works with his artist collective, Bazaar Teens. The final two paintings will be completed by visitors to the fair.

“We are interested in tracking how value is performative, and if the destruction of the money has been recouped if it becomes a physical artwork on the wall,” Yellin told the Observer. “The intention to be charitable; does it increase the value? Or will a collector see buying a piece of art as an act of charity?”

The paintings certainly are a departure from Yellin’s signature glass works, colorful layered pieces that conflate sculpture with painting. Yellin recently created 15 pieces for his ongoing “Psychogeographies” series, colored human forms seemingly suspended in glass vitrines, for the New York City Ballet Art Series. The artist has also dabbled in fashion, creating prints inspired by his work for fashion designer Misha Nonoo.

SPRING/BREAK Art Show will be on view at Skylight at Moynihan Station, March 4–8, 2015.

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