Nico Franz

1981 Cottbus, DE

Money Never Sleeps, Pal, 2021

Pixel on Canvas

Money Never Sleeps, Pal, 2021

Image description

A black square. On it, centered and in 16:9 format, colored stripes in dark pastel colors. The image can be changed. The colors vary in a small color spectrum, but retain their dark character throughout. Also, a new, destroyed-looking composition of flat horizontal lines appears randomly.

Wall Street - Gordon Gekko am Strand
The original image that Nico Franz edited. A scene from the film "Wall Street", 1987

Classification in the overall work

The artwork represented the culmination of Nico Franz's artistic work to date.
It combines his technical skills with a strong artistic expressiveness. It allows for biographical as well as historical interpretations, and its obviously commercial character sets it apart from the general laws of the art market.


Nico Franz loads the original image onto the viewer's interface, keeps it hidden from him, modifies it, sets parameters for variants, and shows a smoothed, abstracted version of the original. First, it calculates the average value of the colors per image line of the original image and redraws the respective line with this value. This results in a smoothing of the vertical forms, to which the person in the foreground also falls victim. In this process, due to the parameterization of the color values, which are slightly changed in each image variant, no version is like the previous one. The result is an almost infinite variety of variants that nevertheless have a common character, that of an expectant new morning.

Image Explanation

The reference to the motion picture "Wall Street" (1987)

Nico Franz gave the picture the title "Money Never Sleeps, Pal". Like the painting itself, this refers to a scene from the 1987 film "Wall Street," in which stock market tycoon Gordon Gekko calls his protégé from the beach at dawn and wakes him with these words.

The light mood of this scene combined with the figure of Gordon Gekko deeply impressed Nico Franz and inspired him to create this work. At the beginning of 2021 he commented on it as follows.

A capitalist drama in three acts. A beach in the morning. Before a flood. A man looks at the moving sea, wasteland around him. He speaks the magic words. Money never sleeps, buddy. A beach in the morning. After a flood. Man is gone.

Nico Franz Copyist

The essence of capitalism in the copist understanding

Nico Franz thus means the copyist process: the original is selected out of an emotion, analyzed, imitated, and finally duplicated ad infinitum.
The selection then also gives the key to the picture intention. In the contemplative confrontation with what is depicted, the viewer is supposed to consciously remember the title. For "Money Never Sleeps, Pal," stands in the tradition of an essential insight of early capitalism, already formulated by Benjamin Franklin in "The Way to Wealth": "Early to bed and early out, that's what makes the rich, healthy and wise." Most recently, the great capitalist, artist and political activist Arnold Schwarzenegger referred to these words: "Well, then just sleep faster I would recommend" (Six Rules of Success, Rule No. 5).

The reference to the Wall Street Crash of 1987

Set in 1987, the year the film was made and also the year of one of the most violent stock market crashes in recent history, the work warns of the dangers that rise from the sea. But it also tells a story of a peace that results from the succession of times, admittedly interrupted now and then by occasional irritations of a world that at first seems chaotic.

Other interpretations

Historical level of interpretation

Nico Franz gave the actual picture, as so often, a black, square background. On the one hand, this makes the dark colors of the picture seem more intense and the character of a twilight is emphasized more strongly.
On the other hand, this makes the picture itself look like a window. A window from an otherwise absolutely dark room, almost as if the only purpose of this opening was the anxious view of a beach. Morning after morning, until finally chaos and terror appear in this window.

Engagement with contemporary art

Nico Franz, certainly typical of a leading representative of Copism, is not the first to transfer pictorial motifs into horizontal lines. Gerhard Richter already exhibited "Stripes and Glass" at the Albertinum in Desden in 2013. The original basis for his designs is not as clearly delineated as it is for Nico Franz. That Nico Franz knew Richter's work at the time "Money Never Sleeps, Pal" was created is likely.
Thus "Money Never Sleeps, Pal" is also a positioning towards this form of contemporary art, which the copyist Nico Franz must surely have found too static.