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This Andy Warhol Unemployment Chart Could Rake in $30,000 This Andy Warhol Unemployment Chart Could Rake in $30,000

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This Andy Warhol Unemployment Chart Could Rake in $30,000

You almost certainly need a job if you want to own this Warhol. (Screenshot/Christies)()

photo of Niraj Chokshi
January 30, 2013

Art and economic policy are about as far apart as two subjects can be. One is an expression of human creativity. The other is the dismal science. But leave it to Andy Warhol to find a way to marry the two.

Warhol, who challenged the fine-arts tradition by using popular culture in his work, created a nearly 2-by-3-foot chart of the U.S. unemployment rate in 1984. The piece, pictured above, shows the spike in unemployment during the recession in the early 1980s. It goes on sale at Christie's next month and is expected to bring in $20,000 to $30,000 (h/t @AnnalynKurtz).

Here's a comparison of Warhol's piece with a Google Drive chart of unemployment over the same time period:


Warhol wasn’t the first to combine art with an economic concept. In 1924, Marcel Duchamp came up with a way to bet on roulette that he argued allowed him to continuously win. In order to use his system on a larger scale, he designed bonds, pictured below, to raise money from investors, according to Christie's. One of those bonds sold, as art, for about $1 million in 2010. 


More recently, German artist Andreas Nicolas Fischer mapped global economic output in his piece “Fundament.” The piece, pictured below and featured in an old New York Times blog post, maps the world’s gross domestic product in 2007 (the bumps on the wood), overlaid by a frame depicting global derivatives volume.

(Credit: Fischer's website)

Another Fischer piece, "Indizes," depicts the S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average, and NASDAQ over most of 2008.

(Credit: Fischer's website)

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