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Florida artist creates sculpture from thousands of playing cards, poker chips

King sculpture - Mateo Blanco
King sculpture - Mateo Blanco
King sculpture - Mateo Blanco

“Cool Million” commissioned by South Florida poker player

October 26, 2019

Orlando, FL - (by Mateo Blanco) - Mateo Blanco has upped the ante once again with his latest whimsical work of art. The Orlando artist recently sold a 55-pound, nearly three-foot sculpture of a king he created from thousands of cards and poker chips.

The work, “Cool Million,” was inspired by his well-known previous work, “Queen of Hearts,” which is currently on display at Disney Springs. That piece, made of 4,000 playing cards and hundreds of dice, depicts Queen Elizabeth II and is life-size. It is meant to embody the fantasy of Alice in Wonderland. Ripley’s Believe It or Not! even created a cartoon about the piece.

South Florida poker player Domenico Maurici saw “Queen of Hearts” and contacted Blanco to commission “Cool Million.”

In a nod to Maurici’s Italian heritage, Blanco took inspiration for the king from Roman emperors. He spent six months creating the work, which uses thin pieces of wood for stability. The piece is kinetic, offering a different look depending on where the viewer stands. From the side, the piece presents layers of cards that create depth, but from the front, it present slats that make it opaque.

“The work is a study of art and physics,” Blanco said. “It mirrors the experience of a poker player at the table. The game changes with even the tiniest shift.”

Blanco is known for creating art from unusual materials, such as coffee beans and dog hair, especially to create works depicting pop culture.

“When I see Mateo’s work entitled ‘Cool Million’ I see a piece that has essence and context and demands to be seen through the prism of irony,” said Boris Douglas Garbe, curator in Orlando, FL.

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