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Downsides of Patronage

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Hedge Fund, by Gianni Monteleone  

Before global finance crashed, Robert Jain, the head of Credit Suisse global proprietary trading, commissioned twelve artists through the private curator Kipton Cronkite to create works inspired by Wall Street terminology. Now the collection, called “The Color of Money: the Collision of Art and Finance,” is finished, and Jain didn’t get exactly what he was expecting. There’s a painting of gathering clouds inspired by “hedge fund” called Ominous; there’s a stock-ticker painting featuring the phrase “We will allocate your payments and credits in a way that is most favorable to us”; there’s a light-box of snarling red bulls. The most disturbing might be Gianni Monteleone’s depiction of a Wall Streeter floating underwater, money spilling out of his briefcase. But Monteleone insists that it’s about finance’s potential for transformation, not its death. (“Water replenishes itself, and it’s cleansing,” he explains.) “If that’s the image, then that’s the image” artists have of finance, Jain says. Still, “twenty years from now, maybe the financial industry will be seen as a constructive part of society, and then that piece of art is really dating itself, in a sense, to that nine-month period when the financial industry was really getting beat up.”

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