Rand's Smart Art


Dorothy, We're Not at The Heritage Foundation Anymore.

Two minutes into this blog's recent tour of the Rand Corporation, and what do we see?

Art by Fred Tomaselli.

That's Fred Tomaselli (!) -- great, provocative, pill-pasting Fred Tomaselli. Here's an excerpt from a 2006 ArtInfo profile and interview:

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"Fred Tomaselli (b. 1956) is celebrated for the ecstatic fantasies he presents in his pictures--explosions of color, laced with art-historical references, that both invite transcendence and hint at the more toxic, monstrous visions that can accompany quests for the sublime.

"He uses a range of techniques, including collage, painting and glazing, to make his highly decorative pictures that are often described as psychedelic--particularly since he has infamously included pills and marijuana leaves among his collage materials (which once led to his works being detained by customs officials in France).

"Indeed, Tomaselli--who has said his involvement with "stoner" culture in his youth has been an important influence on his art--creates works that act very much like a drug, but one that alters a viewer's consciousness via the eyes rather than chemistry.

"Today, the outdoor-loving Tomaselli, who says he hasn't used LSD in over 25 years..."

[Source: "Fred Tomaselli," by Robert Ayers, ArtInfo, October 20, 2006]

Clearly, and thankfully, Rand didn't just contract with a commercial interior decorator and request the blandest common denominator. Tomaselli ain't Muzak.

Neither are the other challenging artists whose works, as it turns out, are hung throughout Rand's HQ. To stroll the halls is to spot a Todd Gray, a Sol Lewitt, even a Tim Hawkinson -- stars of modern and contemporary art. Visiting Rand is like going to MOCA, but all the while popping into offices to talk about the Muslim Brotherhood, with one expert; Qatar's K-12 education system with another; and how to solve Los Angeles' traffic woes with a third.

Rand, staffers there point out, does not own the art displayed in its building. The works, the staffers say, are on loan from the Peter Norton Family Foundation. Norton is a major figure in the art world, as well as a Rand supporter.

By the way, here's the link to a 2005 Rand analysis titled, "A Portrait of the Visual Arts: Meeting the Challenges of a New Era."

And while we're at it, circling up the Oz reference at the top to this post -- we gotta own up.... For all this blog knows, the Heritage Foundation not only has Fred Tomasellis hanging on its office walls, but plays host, too, to weekly performances by the NEA Four. Readers, please let us know, if you know. Otherwise, we'll get to much more on the famous, D.C.-based tank during the coming months.

Coming Next: Más Maher -- The 'Religious' Man Slammed Think Tanks

Photo Copyright & Courtesy Brett Van Ort, 2008

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