Pennies Delightful: Change We Can Believe In

Robert Wechsler Caryatid Pennies Tower Art Sculpture 1

If you think modern art doesn’t make sense, consider “The Caryatid”, artist Robert Wechsler’s money-themed artwork made FROM cents… about 15,000 of them.

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If you’re one of those whose desk drawers hold their fair share of “useless” pennies, you’re not alone – the much-maligned and unappreciated cent is an expensive-to-make, hard to spend relic of a bygone age. First minted in 1792, their actual copper content has dropped steadily from 100% to (since 1983) a mere 2.5%. No wonder no one respects them.

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“Plenty of people hate pennies,” agrees artist Robert Wechsler. “Pennies are seen as useless money (and) many people consider them a nuisance. I look at a penny and see a beautiful sculptural token full of meaning and information about our society, and our history.” Bringing his vision of such a small and insignificant societal icon to wider appreciation requires making a larger than life statement, and in “The Caryatid” – a seven-foot tall, dodecahedral lattice column comprising 15,000 pennies – Wechsler just may have succeeded.

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That’s not saying it was easy. Wechsler has had some experience in this unusual medium, having been commissioned previously by The New Yorker magazine to create sculptures from coins for a “Money” themed issue. The Caryatid was going to be much larger, however, and Wechsler ended up designing a custom die cutter specifically for the project.

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