So this guy, Otis Kaye, lost all his savings in the stock market crash of 1929. This loss had to have pissed him off or at least left him a little numb to and/or disillusioned by the financial world’s proclamations of glory, right? Right. He began making more and more forms of currency—coins, bills, etc.—the focus of his incredibly detailed paintings.
Decades later, in 1963, he created this oil on canvas masterpiece, “Heart of the Matter.” It “represents Rembrandt’s ‘Aristotle with a Bust of Home’ (1653)—which had been purchased two years earlier by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, for a record-breaking price—torn into pieces and surrounded by and even interlaced with money,” according to the Art Institute of Chicago’s placard by the painting. “At the very center appears a suspended stack of bills; the ‘heart of the matter’ is thus the close connection between art and commerce.”
Now, before you go judging the irony of an artwork with these anti-capitalist undertones now living in an art museum itself, consider this: It was given to the AIC as a gift by Anonymous.