Value Beyond Currency
“Love Note” is a remarkable ready-made that tells the heartwarming story of the artist’s relationship with his wife, and the significance of a 500-Francs bill in their lives. This unique and extremely personal piece captures Gimeno’s attachment to objects that are connected to people and the power they hold.
The story began in Paris in 1996, where the artist met a young American woman who had come to the city to learn French. The two immediately fell in love, and she moved in with him after only a few weeks. When she offered to contribute to the rent, the artist refused, feeling that accepting money from her would be petty. However, she insisted, and handed him a 500-Francs note, the largest denomination of French currency at the time. Despite its value, the artist refused to spend the note, instead asking her to sign it. The playful young woman affixed her signature, alongside the signatures of the officials of the Banque de France, under her made-up title: THE LOVER. Thus began a journey, spanning almost three decades with the note remaining in the artist’s possession as a cherished and treasured object.
This paper bill is an expression to the artist’s love for his wife, and his belief that objects can hold a particular meaning beyond their original purpose. The note has traveled with him all over the world, surviving multiple moves and the fatal transition from francs to euros.
For the artist, money has always been a difficult issue, particularly in the context of his art. However, his wife has been a constant source of support and belief, and this artwork is a tribute to her unwavering faith.
In today’s art world, where investment and speculation often take precedence over the artistic process and intention, “Love Note” serves as a refreshing reminder of what truly matters in art: the human bonds and experiences that inspire it. As the artist himself points out, the meaning of this piece is so much greater than what first meets the eye; one has to take the time to look beyond the guise.
Although, art can be viewed as a commodity to be bought and sold, Gimeno’s 500-Francs bill poses an intriguing question to the viewers – Is it for sale? and what should be its worth? It challenges the audience to reexamine our priorities and values, the artist is inviting us to question our own relationship with money, love, and the things that we hold dear.
“The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.” Blaise Pascal, featured on this “devalued” 500-Francs love note, would likely approve Gimeno’s conceptual artwork, as a vivid legacy to his very famous statement.
© 2020 R.W – Exhibitions & Art Reviews, New York