Banned in the USA, Marc Blane’s artworks come to London

Bold and audacious, the political edge of Marc Blane’s work has seen it banned from the US. London, however, isn’t quite so safe.

December 3, 2013
by Gowri Balasegaram
Marc Blane, from the Financial Statement series
Marc Blane, from the Financial Statement series

Marc Blane’s controversial series Financial Statements has been banned in the US, but will exhibit at Petit Gallery in London this month.

The artist’s infamous mixed media works feature several heads of George Washington that have been cut out of one-dollar bills and arranged in such a way as to resemble sperm. By removing the heads from the banknotes, Blane violates US law which stipulates that defacement or destruction of any American currency is  punishable by 3 to 6 months in prison, a $5,000 fine and confiscation of the artworks.

Blane claims that the only negative reaction he has received is from more established galleries in America, who are unwilling to take on the risk and potential backlash of exhibiting the work. Speaking to ARTINFO UK, Blane said: “I haven’t had many problems with the authorities directly, but I have had terrible problems with the globalised institution of the art world. The real enemy is the institution. Although I also participate in it myself, I am trying to implode it from the inside in a very soft way.”

Writing about Blane’s ‘Financial Statements,’ art advisor and curator Sandra Higgins has described the series as “defaced US dollars losing their status as legal tender to become a hybrid germ/sperm specimen, symbolic of both the destructive and beneficial capacities of globalised capital.”

Originally from the Lower East Side, New York, 63-year old Blane is no stranger to controversy. His politically charged folk art practice explores universal themes such as fertility, religion and immortality. In 1980, he was one of the participating artists in the seminal exhibition The Times Square Show, and was involved with the gritty urban East Village Downtown scene alongside artists Jean-Michel Basquiat, Robert Mapelthorpe and Jenny Holzer.