It would be a small price to pay in fines or
disgorgement related to illegal insider trading, but $23,000 is
instead the more reasonable sticker price for "Insider
Information," a compelling painting by French artist
The 2014 work (above) was part of a recent show,
entitled "Contre-Nuit" (meaning "against the dark") at the Bertrand Delacroix
Gallery in Chelsea, Manhattan. It now hangs at the Axelle
Fine Arts Galerie in SoHo (Delacroix owns both
The painting depicts a middle-aged heavyset man in
a slightly-rumpled suit smoking a cigar. The dark and
disjointed background, cinematic close-up framing, and
realistic detail (hands and forehead, especially) are
characteristic of Bard's work.
|| President John
I happened across the painting recently and thought
to bring it to the attention of Absolute
Return readers because it conveys, in a way hundreds of
articles cannot, the moral choice faced by so many in an
industry that offers very large temptations. It very simply and
strikingly captures a piece of a particular era on Wall
One interpretation is that we are seeing the
subject of the painting captured between the action and the
fallout, having committed to a course that may end very badly.
He is hunched over, with the muscles of his forehead rigid with
concentration, or perhaps stress.
Reached through the gallery, Bard responded via email that
the inspiration for the picture "came from a picture of JFK,
perhaps during a moment in Cuba. This represents to me the
vanity/pride of men in power, with the cigar as a symbol of
The has been no shortage of vanity or pride evident
in the insider trading cases of recent years. This is not the
first time Bard has focused on a topic related to financial
markets. Of several works in "Not Guilty," a 2012 Bard exhibit,
were "Le trader" and "The crash" (below):
| "Le trader"
"Bard often begins his artistic process by taking
photographs of himself in poses inspired by images in the
media," the gallery states on its website. The description notes that
Bard's technique "dates back to the classical tradition of
layering of oil paint with visible impasto marks and varnish.
The resulting pieces are incredibly textured, atmospheric and
If you are down in SoHo, the painting -- far more
arresting on canvas and at its full size (51" x 63") -- is
"Man looks in the abyss, there's nothing staring
back at him," says Lou Mannheim in Wall
Street. "At that moment, man finds his character. And
that is what keeps him out of the abyss."
In this case, thankfully, we can observe without
penalty. Certain types of knowledge are without sanction.