The iconic series Dirty Money was created in the late nineties by Reynard, under the pseudonym Nota Bene. It began as a statement borne out of his belief that the art world places too much emphasis on the assessed financial worth of a work, and not enough on it aesthetic value. He expressed this discontent by using old banknotes and working on them by superimposing naked figures, then selling them as non-negotiable currency for whatever price people were willing to pay for them.

At first he considered calling his altered money Naked Notes, Erotic Notaphily or Filthy Lucre, but in the end he settled on Dirty Money, as it best expressed the grubby nature of the well-handled paper and the disingenuous puritanical attitudes of those who object to nudity. 

Reynard’s Dirty Money cannot be described as great art, but neither is it trite or in any way pornographic. It is, like all good graphic oddities an honest form, one that has both a socio-political point and an aesthetic relevance.

In 2016 Reynard gave a rare interview to the French Arts magazine Paris Graphica. Among the questions he was posed we have chosen some that elicited particularly interesting responses.

What specifically fascinated you about your Dirty Money?

Apart from combining old with new, it was the way the bank notes machine engraving wrapped itself around the skin like a tattoo, embracing the figures in exotic pattern, snaking line and colour across breasts, thigh and face, as if the original engraver were caressing the flesh with grace and elan.

Do you feel that many of your works objectify women?

To quote the words of the writer Marianne Simoné, ‘An homage can never be mere objectification. Adoration of the female or male form should be interpreted as an appreciation of the whole person, not just their external appearance.’

Who do you believe to be your audience? Who is drawn to your pieces of Dirty Money?

I was surprised to discover that the appreciation was spread fairly equally between men and women. In fact, I have sold more to women than men. 

Why do you think that is?

Probably because many men are self-conscious about being seen to want to own reproductions of naked women. On the other hand women feel freer to own and possess images of their own sensuality.

Where did you find your models?

I would like to say that I met and photographed each of them personally, but in truth that was well beyond my financial means. So I sourced images from here, there and everywhere, and while I have the opportunity I would like to thank those models. One can never be sure of a photograph’s origins, but I hope I have not borrowed this inspiration from anyone who would have been unwilling to inspire my artistic endeavours.