Fred Tomaselli, Super Plant, 1994. Psychoactive plant material, acrylic, and resin on wood panel, 74 x 54 inches. Hort family collection. Copyright the artist. Courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York.

Fred Tomaselli




Art Matters!
Conversation between artist Fred Tomaselli and
AAM Director and Chief Curator Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson


Art Matters!
Conversation about Fred Tomaselli between Ian Berry and
AAM Director and Chief Curator Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson


Fred Tomaselli’s work reveals a uniquely American vision. Growing up in Southern California, he was influenced by both the manufactured unreality of theme parks and the music and drug countercultures of Los Angeles during the 1970s and 80s. His distinctive melding of these traditions coalesces in an updated, personalized, folk-driven vision of the American West. Tomaselli amasses pills, herbs and other drugs, along with images of plants, flowers, birds, and anatomical illustrations carefully cut from books. Pulling from this visual archive, Tomaselli creates baroque paintings that draw upon a range of art historical sources and decorative traditions—like quilts and mosaics. Combining these unusual materials and paint under layers of clear epoxy resin, Tomaselli’s paintings explode in mesmerizing patterns that appear to grow organically across his compositions in a multilayered coexistence of the real, the photographic, and the painterly.

Organized by the AAM and the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, Fred Tomaselli is a mid-career survey of two-dimensional works from the late 1980s to the present. A fully-illustrated catalogue will accompany the exhibition, featuring texts by Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, exhibition curator, along with a text by Linda Norden, Director of the Amie and Tony James Gallery at the Graduate Center, City
University of New York; an extended conversation between the artist and Ian Berry, Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs and Curator at The Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College; and a literary contribution by David Shields, best-selling author of The Thing About Life is that One Day You’ll Be Dead.

On Friday, August 7, 2009, during the museum’s annual artCRUSH summer benefit, Tomaselli will be awarded the 2009 Aspen Award for Art. He is the first artist to be represented in an AAM solo exhibition while simultaneously being honored with the award.


Fred Tomaselli Catalogue


Artist Interview

Fred Tomaselli was born in Santa Monica, California in 1956 and currently lives and works in New York. He has had solo exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art, SITE Santa Fe,

Albright-Knox Gallery of Art, and the Rose Art Museum. His work has been included in numerous international group exhibitions, including the 2001 Berlin Biennale, the 2002 Liverpool Biennial, the 2004 SITE Santa Fe Biennial, and the 2004 Whitney Biennial.

The Fred Tomaselli exhibition is scheduled to travel to the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, where it will be on view from February 6 – June 6, 2010, and then New York’s Brooklyn Museum from October 8, 2010 – January 2, 2011.

Fred Tomaselli is organized by the Aspen Art Museum and the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College. The presentation at the Aspen Art Museum is funded in part by the AAM National Council. Underwriting provided by Nancy and Bob Magoon and Simone and Kerry Vicker. Exhibition lectures are presented by the Questrom Lecture Series.