In 2002, Lord Boateng was appointed Chief Secretary to HM Treasury, a post he held for three years. On his visit to the Government Art Collection to select artworks, he spotted Peas Are The New Beans by Bob and Roberta Smith, a 1993 painting that had just returned from another location.
Echoing the style of street vendors’ signs and protest banners, this work uses bold text in the artist’s distinctive graphic style.
Bob and Roberta Smith – Peas Are the New Beans
Playfully proclaiming the nonsensical relationship between peas and beans, Smith’s work sparked a wonderful idea in Boateng’s mind as to how it would be received by visitors to his office. As he recalled in 2011:
“It was a piece of pop art which cast a less than respectful eye on that much-maligned breed “bean counters”. Cast in the role of “bean counter in chief” I welcomed anything that raised a laugh or at least a wry smile on the part of those awaiting scrutiny before they were ushered into my rooms at 1 Horse Guards Road [HM Treasury].”