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Lehman Brothers Logo ‘Liquidated’ as Artist Paints Wall Street

Aghirre Schwarz
Artist Aghirre Schwarz in front of his painting featuring the Lehman Brothers logo. The 32-inch-by-52-inch work is at Gallery De Buck in Manhattan. Photographer: Philip Boroff/Bloomberg

The lines drip as if the Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. logo were melting or crying.

The painting is meant to symbolize the investment bank’s collapse two years ago, the largest corporate bankruptcy in U.S. history and a precursor of the global financial crisis.

The 32-inch-by-52-inch work at Manhattan’s Gallery De Buck in Chelsea will soon have company. Other canvases are adorned with the unblemished logos of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Bear Stearns Cos., Merrill Lynch & Co. and Bank of America Corp.

The French artist who created them, 32-year-old Aghirre Schwarz, plans to add dripping lines to each, a process he calls “liquidating.”

“My painting shows that Lehman Brothers was not so solid,” he said in accented English at the gallery. “And that the most solid things in appearance one day change.”

The jarring image is illustrative of Schwarz’s roots as a graffiti artist. He often goes by the sobriquet “Zeus,” spelled “Zevs.”

He has “liquidated” corporate logos for years. His most famous was in 2009, when he painted a leaky Chanel insignia outside an Armani boutique in Hong Kong. He was arrested and jailed for days. The bank canvases will make up his first New York solo show, scheduled for early 2011.

“The first interest of my mind is about the visual aspect of this logo,” he said of Lehman. “I play with the rhythm of the lines of the canvas. You can have a visual sensation of vibration when you look at it.”

Dealer David De Buck is asking $12,000 for it.

“He wants to change the way we look at things,” De Buck said. “We’re the only ones who still invest in Lehman Brothers.”

For more information, see Schwarz’s website, where he “liquidates” Google Inc.’s logo.

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