$-REALISME / Kan du slå en femmer i stykker? (en Fitterman-idyl)
Can You Break a Five (pl. 5) is a complex currency composition in the manner of Reproduction. Painted in 1988, it is rendered in Haberle's most impeccable trompe l'oeil style. It shows an especially colorful tattered five-dollar bill issued in 1880. At right is a large pale red medaillon woven into the paper, with letters printed over it. The identifying currency numbers - Z1420719 - at bottom left and top right are also red.
The bill includes a portrait of President Andrew Jackson in a roundel at bottom left; the Roman numeral V (top left) and the number 5 (top right) identify the denomination, as do the words FIVE DOLLARS in the center of the bill, below UNITED STATES. At the center is an illustration of an american pioneer couple - a seated woman and a standing man holding an axe, his dog at his side. Their small cabin is in the background, evidence of their success in clearing the wilderness and establishing a homestead. The United States Treasury Department commisioned a number of American artists during this period to paint compositions to decorate American currency. Although the artist of the pioneer couple in Can You Break a Five? is unknown, the image recalls the work of William Sidney Mount, a well-known painter of the period.
The five-dollar bill rests on a diagonal above the remnants of a one-dollar bill; torn scraps of its corners rest at the upper left and at the left center edge near the frame. At the center Haberle carefully painted the portion of the reverse of a one-dollar bill that contained the warning from the United States Treasury Department regarding counterfeiting. Much of this text can be read with a magnifying glass, including counterfeit and imitation of paper money. This detail also appears in U.S.A., and A Deception: Ben Franklin and Five Dollars.
A battered pair of magnifying spectacles dangling by a string hangs over a small newspaper clipping that appears in U.S.A. The praiseworthy clipping serves as Haberle's signature. There is no other signature or date. Can You Break a Five is probably the painting that was exhibited at the Pennsylvania Scademy in Philadelphia in January 1889.
(afskrevet fra kataloget John Haberle: American Master of Illusion, købt for 10 kr i dag på Københavns Hovedbibliotek)