Mark Wagner

Fortune’s Daughter: An Allegory of Greed / Simple

Mark Wagner

Fortune’s Daughter: An Allegory of Greed / Simple



Edition Size



Letterpress, Lithograph


Paper case


Artist Book


15 × 7.5 in




Bird Brain Press

$ 600.00


View Collectors

Library of Congress (LoC)

Oberlin College

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Wesleyan University, Olin Library

“The order in which the sides are viewed has a large impact on the way the experience of the reader. The first cover, ‘An Allegory of Prosperity,’ leads to an accordion-folded reproduction of the large-scale ‘Fortune’s Daughter‘ collage, a female figure meticulously rendered from deconstructed US one dollar bills. The figure steps from a swirling landscape of flowers through an arched structure toward the viewer.

The second cover, ‘An Allegory of Greed,’ leads to a mini-epic narrative poem retelling the story of King Midas, who asked for and received the gift of the golden touch. The poem tracks Midas’ psychology as he adjusts to this new power, a transition from simple wonder to uncontrollable desire to panic and despair. The golden touch is his undoing, culminating in the death of his daughter, unwittingly turned to gold in the final act.

Without the poem’s context, Fortune’s Daughter: An Allegory of Prosperity seems largely positive, transforming the ubiquitous bill into something personal and treasured through the careful application of craft. Viewed after reading the poem, however, the collage becomes horrific, a contemporary interpretation of a classic fable: a person made grotesque by the specter of wealth.

The poem’s 284 lines of verse were written specifically as an accompaniment to the collage. The rhyme and meter suggest a fatalism inherent to Midas’ story. The careful crafting and double entendre of the language mimics visual devices at work in the collage.

The larger allegories of the collage and the poem contain multiple visual and verbal layers of reference and metaphor. Allusions to illuminated manuscripts, sacred texts, American history, and commerce… among other concerns… result in a parable without a definitive end, a perpetual reflection on value, craft, greed, and transformation.”
– Wagner.

Letterpress printed from lead type, rule, and etched magnesium plates of Zerkal book paper. Color lithography printed on Novalith dull text with a satin aqueous coating. Collage from actual US one dollar bills. Simple editions bound in letterpress printed cream-color Perma Dur covers with brass eyelets. 15” x 7.5” when closed. 24 pages. Signed and numbered edition of 90, with 60 simple and 30 deluxe and 2 display copies. 2010.