"Lust of Currency", a body painting series by NY Artist Trina Merry

How do we value art?  Is it by a work’s historical significance, it’s popularity, or by how much someone is willing to pay for it? This series examines some of the most expensive works of art and are titled by how much, approximately, a collector paid for the work.

During a period of a record Dow Jones high and in an era where the USA has a millionaire president (but the National Endowment for the Arts is being discontinued) how will the art economy change?  What will be the new role of the artist?  How are auctions, art fairs and the Internet changing the market and the way we see art?  We examine who are the people behind this arts economy.

The master paintings for this series were printed out as backdrops, allowing Merry to then camouflage body painted performance artists into the masterpieces and documented with photography. Each painting is titled by their final price tag, though remain fluid as in the example of the recent controversial sale of Leonardo da Vinci's “Salvator Mundi,” which appreciated from "$127.5 million" to "$450.3 million” in a record 19-minute auction when it was purchased by an un-identified Saudi by telephone in November.

“Some of our greatest pieces of art are better known by their auction price, which is a telling sign that societal, political and economic forces have greatly impacted our culture,” said Merry.