In the transport business


Field Guides, Fred Tomaselli, 2003

From The Paris Review:

A fledgling installation artist in California, Tomaselli schooled himself in late twentieth-century America’s far-out utopian and dystopian fireworks, ingesting influences from surfboard and car culture, finish-fetish art, Chris Burden and his conceptual noodlings, the light and space trickery of Robert Irwin and James Turrell, the California punk scene, Alice Cooper, The Stooges—as well as loads of mind-scrambling hallucinogens. The low-rise, irony-free industrial stretches of 1980s Williamsburg was the unlikely location where these and other fanciful ideas came together beneath gallons of poured resin.

Like the Grateful Dead, Fred Tomaselli is in “the transport business.” Long interested in what he called “the premodernist ideal of a picture becoming a vehicle of transportation,” Tomaselli is part of an essential generation of American artists that rescued hand-wrought, two-dimensional pictures from neo-expressionist hype, the market vapidities of commodity critique, and the Carrie Nation–style prohibitions of academic conceptualism. In the early nineties, this group of once-rogue, now well-established midcareer firebrands—the diverse circle includes also wicked Lisa Yuskavage and zealous James Siena—hotwired the tired clunker of contemporary American painting with craft, beauty, and real-world content that sported, among other pleasurable offenses, sex, politics (mostly the cultural kind), history (usually of the arty variety), and a racy antitheoretical bias. A connoisseur of psilocybin and Tuinals, Tomaselli was the gang’s Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

“Pills and Thrills: Fred Tomaselli’s Transport”, Christian Viveros-Fauné, The Paris Review