Andy Warhol's signature style of exposing art as a commodity is nowhere more ironic or literal as in his depictions of American currency. One Dollar Bill belongs to a series of drawings that Warhol executed between 1962 and 1964. These works comprised bills that were represented in a variety of formats including the present image of a flattened dollar, as well as a curved and crumpled dollar with dark shadows, a heap of dollars in overlapping planes, and dollars rolled into thick cylinders. Rendered in meticulous illusionistic detail, these works elevated the crassest of subject matter into the realms of high art in what would become Warhol's characteristically sardonic approach.
According to legend, the way Warhol came about painting soup cans and dollar bills was generated in a conversation with Muriel Latow, a New York gallery owner and friend, in 1961. Warhol who was notorious for asking for new ideas was countered with, "is there something that means more to you than money? Would not money be a subject for pictures that everyone would immediately understand: bank notes or soup cans or something similar?" Warhol was clearly drawn to subjects that were easily comprehensible and "loved," and were above all commodities to be consumed.
Bourdon suggests that, "Warhol's paintings and drawings of flat dollar bills bring to mind the tromp l'oeil works created by several American painters in the closing decades of the nineteenth century, especially William M. Harnett and John Haberle, both of whom scrupulously copied paper money.Many fool-the-eye illusions depend for their success on the actual flatness of the pictured subject. Like Haberle and Harnett, Warhol repeatedly chose to paint subjects that possessed very little three-dimensionality."