Fred Tomaselli (American, b. 1956), Portrait of Laura, 1995, Prismacolor on photogram, 16 x 20", Collection of James-Keith Brown and Eric Diefenbach, © Fred Tomaselli. Image courtesy of the James Cohan Gallery, New York.

Fred Tomaselli (American, b. 1956), All the Bands I Can Remember Seeing and All the Extinct Vertebrates in North America Since 1492, 1990, Prismacolor on paper, 9 x 48", Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Purchased with funds provided by the Drawings Committee, © Fred Tomaselli Image. Courtesy of the James Cohan Gallery, New York.

Fred Tomaselli's American Vision of the Psychedelic and Alternative

Fred Tomaselli (American, b. 1956), Untitled (Expulsion), 2000, Leaves, pills, mushrooms, photo collage, acrylic, and resin on wood panel, 84 x 120", Collection of Peter Norton, © Fred Tomaselli. Image courtesy of the James Cohan Gallery, New York.

Fred Tomaselli (American, b. 1956), Black and White All Over, 1993, Pills, acrylic, and resin on wood panel, 48 x 48", Collection of A.G. Rosen, © Fred Tomaselli. Image courtesy of the James Cohan Gallery, New York.

Fred Tomaselli, Avian Flower Serpent, 2006, Leaves, photo collage, acrylic gouache, and resin on wood panel, 84 X 72-½", Collection of Glenn Fuhrman; Courtesy of The Flag Art Foundation, © the artist. Image courtesy of the James Cohan Gallery, New York.

Fred Tomaselli (American, b. 1956), Untitled (Marijuana), 2002, Photogram, 10 x 8", Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery, New York, © Fred Tomaselli. Image courtesy of the James Cohan Gallery, New York.

Fred Tomaselli (American, b. 1956), Super Plant, 1994, Psychoactive plant material, acrylic, and resin on wood panel, 74 x 54", Hort Family Collection, © Fred Tomaselli. Image courtesy of the James Cohan Gallery, New York.

 

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway
718-638-5000
Brooklyn
Fred Tomaselli
October 8, 2010-January 2, 2011

Fred Tomaselli, a mid-career survey featuring the artist’s two-dimensional works from the late 1980s to the present, focuses on the trajectory of Tomaselli’s career, from early experiments with photograms and collage to recent paintings and prints that combine abstraction with allusions to current events. Fred Tomaselli includes more than 40 artworks and will feature collages and paintings created specifically for the Brooklyn Museum’s presentation.

Tomaselli’s work reveals a uniquely American vision that celebrates the psychedelic and the alternative. Growing up near the desert in southern California, Tomaselli was influenced by both the manufactured reality of theme parks and the music and drug countercultures of Los Angeles in the 1970s and ’80s. His distinctive melding of these influences forms an updated, personalized, folk-driven vision of the American West.

An avid and idiosyncratic collector who is interested in botany and ornithology, Tomaselli amasses prescription pills, hallucinogenic plants, and other drugs, along with images of plants, flowers, birds, and anatomical illustrations carefully cut from books. Pulling from this visual archive, he creates richly decorated surfaces that are composed of hundreds of found images. Combining these unusual materials and paint under layers of clear epoxy resin, Tomaselli’s highly stylized artworks merge the printed image or the photographic image with areas painted by hand.

A few of the earlier paintings in the exhibition reference Minimalism, such as Black and White All Over (1993), in which Tomaselli laboriously organized rows and columns of prescription pills. Other early works experimented with the photographic, like Portrait of John (1995), in which Tomaselli used a photogram, an image made by placing objects directly onto the surface of a photo-sensitive material, to create an astrological map loosely based off the drug history of his subject. Other highlights include Avian Flower Serpent (2006), a large, intimidating bird clutching a snake against an exploding background of painted and collaged imagery; Super Plant (1994), an image of the tree of life painstakingly created with plant matter; and Untitled (2000), a depiction of Adam and Eve being expelled from heaven with a large psychedelic nucleus radiating in the background.

Fred Tomaselli emerged in the California art scene creating installations and performance art in the early 1980s. In 1986, he moved to New York, where he was one of the pioneering artists of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Tomaselli’s work has been shown extensively worldwide, in both galleries and museums, from the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York to the White Cube gallery in London. He continues to live and work in Brooklyn.

This exhibition is organized by the Aspen Art Museum and The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College. The Brooklyn Museum presentation is coordinated by Eugenie Tsai, John and Barbara Vogelstein Curator of Contemporary Art, Brooklyn Museum.

The Brooklyn Museum is the third and final venue for Fred Tomaselli. The exhibition originated at the Aspen Art Museum (August 1-October 11, 2009) and then travelled to The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York (February 6-June 6, 2010).

Fred Tomaselli (American, b. 1956), Migrant Fruit Thugs, 2006, Photo collage, leaves, gouache, acrylic, and resin on wood panel, 96 x 78", Glenstone, © Fred Tomaselli. Image courtesy of the James Cohan Gallery, New York.

Fred Tomaselli (American, b. 1956), Multiple Landscape, 1995, Saccharin, acrylic, and resin on wood panel, 72 x 54", Collection of Peter Norton, © Fred Tomaselli. Image courtesy of the James Cohan Gallery, New York.

Fred Tomaselli (American, b. 1956), Ocotillo Nocturne, 1993, Hemp leaves, pills, acrylic, and resin on wood panel, 72 x 54-1/8", Whitney Museum of American Art, New York Purchased with funds from the Painting and Sculpture Committee, © Fred Tomaselli. Image courtesy of the James Cohan Gallery, New York.

Fred Tomaselli (American, b. 1956), Summer Swell, 2007, Photo collage, gouache, acrylic, and resin on wood panel, 18 x 12", Collection of Albert Sanford and Dorothy Wildman, © Fred Tomaselli. Image courtesy of the James Cohan Gallery, New York.

Fred Tomaselli (American, b. 1956), Echo, Wow and Flutter, 2000, Leaves, pills, photo collage, acrylic, and resin on wood panel, 84 x 120", Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York James G. Forsyth Fund, 2001, © Fred Tomaselli. Image courtesy of the James Cohan Gallery, New York.

Fred Tomaselli (American, b. 1956), Feb. 3, 2009, 2009, Gouache and collage on printed watercolor paper, 8-1/4" x 10", © Fred Tomaselli. Image courtesy of the James Cohan Gallery, New York.

 

Fred Tomaselli (American, b. 1956), Leo, 2002, Prismacolor and gouache on photogram, 13-7/8 x 10-7/8", Collection of Crennan and David Ray, © Fred Tomaselli. Image courtesy of the James Cohan Gallery, New York.