Devotional Art


This painting has apparently sold for a tidy $14 grand. I'm thinking the real money's in mass-market prints on velvet. (Hat tip: Will Wilkinson)

NEXT: Last Exit From Brooklyn

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  1. objectivists gettin’ all scientological up in that shit!

  2. Am I supposed to sacrifice my first born to Ayn Rand?

  3. A friend in Interior Design once noted “There is no limit to bad taste”. Odd how we keep encountering proofs that this is so.

    Shirley Knott

  4. The parallels between the cults of Objectivism and Marxism are getting downright creepy at this point. Though even the Marxists weren’t lame enough to co-opt the ancient Egyptians into their artwork (I think).

  5. The parallels between the cults of Objectivism and Marxism are getting downright creepy at this point.

    Well, I find it unlikely that the Objectivists will manage to kill a hundred million people. Unless they bore them to death, that is.

    Regarding the picture — I have to say, those are some of the most Aryan-looking cavemen I’ve ever seen. What’s that all about?

  6. Damn that’s ugly.


  7. Kitsch! Today, it hangs over the fireplace for $14,000. Tomorrow, it hangs over the toy aisle in Goodwill for $14.99.

    Ars gratia artis.

  8. I think it’s an insightful, sagacious image, representing the cosmic cycles. Notice the striking visual similarities between Ayn Rand up top and the monkey down below.

  9. I was thinking of the similarities between the psuedo-intellectual blowhards subscribing to each, not the political leaders. But if the jet stream was to ever dip enough within Lucifer’s domain to allow a hard-core Objectivist government to come to power, I could easily see them carrying out purges of the “looters” in their midst. And maybe anyone who thought that Rand could’ve used some time with a shrink to deal with her S&M-meets-Nietzsche fetish.

  10. I posted pretty much the same comment on my blog. Some nice technique there (on other paintings and other artists), but once they try to get explicitly Randroid, it kinda goes to shit.

  11. Eric,

    You are a second-rate imbecile.
    Evidently it is you who might benefit from analysis.

  12. This Ayn Rand bashing is just sick.

    The woman, by far, was one of the most influential in the development of libertarianism as an important force in the world. The engage in ad hominems about her appearance, make the same tired cult insult (thoroughly debunked by Nathaniel Branden)and insult her importance to the ideas of freedom are why most libertarians make me sick.

    No wonder Leonard Peikoff told Objectivists not to converse with libertarians. At first I thought he had lost his mind, but with no one on libertarianism’s premiere magazine to have anything but insults makes me think that I should listen.

    These attacks sicken me.

  13. Et tu, Julian?
    It’s a pity. Reason used to be a reputable magazine. In past years its editors would (gasp!) even occasionally confess their indebtedness to Ayn Rand. This latest sophomoric gag betrays a certain lack of class, and it is symptomatic of Reason’s current decline.

    Thanks for providing me with one last motive for terminating my twenty-year subscription. Given the remarks from the peanut gallery, this is one club to which I’d be embarrassed to acknowledge membership.

  14. Hit & Run is the Happy Hour version of Reason.
    People whom you have always suspected of being knaves have a few drinks, open their mouths, and remove all doubt.

  15. What gag?

    Everyone who posted in this thread, including me, alas, is a second-rate imbecile.

  16. You made a mistake there by calling me “second-rate” rather than a “second-hander”. If some fellow groupies find out, they’re going to deduct some points away from your next Objectivist merit badge.

    In all seriousness, I don’t find Rand to be completely worthless. I even think the Fountainhead has some worthwhile passages in it, though they diminish in number as the book progresses. Likewise, some of Marx’s writings on economics and sociology have value as well, even if he mostly drew poor conclusions from them.

    My barbs were directed at the true believers, not their messiah of choice. And the kicked-puppy responses made here by Rand’s dyed-in-the-wool defenders aren’t exactly compelling me to “check my premises”.

  17. Ayn Rand. Love her or hate her, you gotta agree:

    That is one tacky, tacky painting.

  18. Well, I’ll be the first to credit Ayn Rand with administering a much-needed enema to my intellect at the age of 18. I’d go so far as to say I wouldn’t be a libertarian now if I hadn’t read her then. (Sorry if that pisses off Mr. Peikoff and company, but it’s the truth.)

    But you have to admit that some of the die-hards don’t do much to shake the cult image. What’s the line? “Jesus, please deliver me from you followers…” Seems rather apt.

    Seriously, though…that is a really ugly painting.

  19. C’mon, Objectivists and Others, can’t we all agree that Ayn would have shat upon this WPA style allegory if she were alive to see it (or even now as she’s — according to the painting –writing about it from heaven).

    It doesn’t speak highly of the purchaser that they’ve just paid $14K for something that would deserves its own wing at the Museum of Bad Art –

  20. PS. At least she’s not smoking

  21. Why is George W wearing that yellow hat?

  22. Egad! How about a little warning when you link to a monstrosity like that? It just about rotted my dick off, just looking at it.

    A columnist for the local paper where I live made some pretty acid comments about the tackiness of “The Passion of the Christ” a few weeks ago, and was barbecued alive. The typical response: “you’ll smoke a turd in hell for criticizing a film about Jesus on taste issues.” This is deja vu all over again.

    And you’re right, Dan. I can understand the Cro Magnon man looking a little Nordic. But Aristotle and an Egyptian scribe? As for killing 100 million people, that depends on whether the ARI replaces PNAC as chief ideological influence in Rummy’s staff. Have you heard some of the shit Peikoff’s said the last couple of years?

    Finally, Julian, I wouldn’t start sending out resumes just yet. If all the people in a snit over you “hippies of the right” who threatened to cancel their subs actually did so, there’d be tumbleweeds blowing through the Reason offices.

  23. Uh… as a neophyte, would someone care to enlighten me on the specific differences between objectivists and libertarians? Specific examples would help.

  24. Eh. I like Saddam’s art collection more.

  25. Kevin,
    Would you have a link to that local paper column and the responses? I would love to read that.

  26. Can anyone give me an example of art created by Objectivists that’s not wretched? I don’t mean offense to the philosophy, but when I think of Objectivist art I think of the terrible writing in Rand’s novels, Rush, and now that painting. (Three data points! It’s a trend!) Somebody give me a good counterexample.

  27. On the O’ist cult thing, Eric and Brian put it far better than I could in their most recent comments.

    Ayn Randian,

    Reactions like yours do more than a hundred Walker books could to reinforce the “cult” stereotype.

  28. Some of the other paintings aren’t bad. I like the one with the kitty in the window.

  29. I, for one, did not criticize Ms. Rand, just
    the ugly painting. But I am glad that the
    Randist influence at Reason has declined over
    time and glad I came to libertarianism (really
    classical liberalism) via Hayek rather than

    And a lot of folks need to chill out today.
    Take your chill pill, people.


  30. I’m also curious about the differences between objectivism and libertarianism, are there any sites I could check out? I’m listening to Atlas Shrugged right now, and I listened to the fountainhead not too long ago. By the way, does anyone remember in Dirty Dancing, when the scummy rich kid who won’t pay for an abortion gives Baby the fountainhead and says that everything he lives by is in that book?

  31. Well, here’s one Objectivist-inspired work of art that has my full approval.

    The actor in this rendition of the novel might actually be less stiff than Gary Cooper was.

  32. Hahahaha! I love the Skull Force parody.

    Did anyone else notice that the Greek guy (who I’ll assume to be Aristotle) looks a lot like Robert De Niro?

  33. Rush rocked – wtf are you talking about. rock rock rock rock rock. Then there was Grace Under Pressure, not like Signals and before. Still rock but not in the pocket.

    Ayn Rand managed to show every one just what intellectual perfectionism was about. If one subscribes to the promotion of rational thought and evolution, then by very definition the Hero must emerge. And that Hero is not for all, but for survivors.

    Like it or not, this woman was able to write a legendary book with this as the premise… she did kick ass.

  34. Please…calling Objectivism a cult is just so passe. Go and worship your Popper god and leave the defence of capitalism to those who know how to do it consistently and logically.

  35. “As it happens, the politics of objectivism are basically libertarian”
    Actually the politics of Objectivism are COMPLETELY capitalist. You must not have read “Capitalism: The unknown ideal”. Tsk,tsk.

  36. I think what would really bring that painting together would be if, above Ayn Rand, there were the logical culmination of the progression.

    Carol Channing.

  37. For objectivist art that doesn’t suck, visit .

    I couldn’t care less about Rand or any other thinker or writer (full disclosure: I couln’t care less about anyone). It’s the ideas that count.

    Having said that, Rand’s ideas are exponentially better/more interesting than the ideas you’ll find coming from the commenters on this site.

  38. Thanks Julian, that was helpful. The objectivists sound pretty hardcore….

  39. Actually the basic difference is that libertarianism is Enlightenment, “Objectiv”ism is Romantic.

  40. Well, at least she doesn’t have the kind of hands that would drop things all over the kitchen. Heh.

    I liked “The Fountainhead,” the same way I like Battleship Potemkin or WPA murals. Once you get past the club-over-the-head politics, it’s an interesting read. The story of an enormously talented sociopath (right down to the inability to grasp that others have feelings like his own), his easily-exploited masochist girlfriend, a weasily no talent brown noser who doesn’t have the fortitude to tell the psycho to piss off, and a plutocrat strikebreaker. The descriptions of buildings and cities and landscapes are great. It doesn’t really become silly until people start talking and thinking. Like Plato’s Republic, it builds a remarkable vision around fundamental misapprehensions about human nature. Oh, and I like the part about one man one day inventing the wheel all on his own. Yes, that’s just how intellectual and technological progress happens.

    Wossisname, the bad guy, is really poorly drawn. He might was well have ripped off a latex mask to reveal an alien head.

  41. So who’s the Pope of Objectivism?

  42. Hey, I liked Rush before I knew about their Rand thing.

    And BTW, Kevin, I’ve been to the Reason offices since the virtual thing began, there already are tumbleweeds blowing through.

    And third, we small ‘l’s’ owe a debt of gratitude to Rand, but she isn’t a god, and the big ‘O’s’ and the little ‘o’s’ don’t have the market cornered on Reason (pun intended).

    This is not, strictly speaking, Rand bashing. It is Piekoff bashing, and, well, let’s just say that this poor Stepford child and former stable boy of Rand’s Experimental New York anti-Commune was the only one still standing after the mass excommunications.

    Even with that distinct advantage, David Kelley has given him a good run for the money and if any practicing objectivist can explain Piekoff’s actions with regard to Kelley as rational, I’m all ears.

    I did notice that Kelley actually broke bread and drank wine with Reason folks in LA a couple of years ago. Probably wasn’t paying attention when Piekoff was pontificating about libertarians.

  43. oddly enough, the last conversation i had about ms. rand’s novels was in a bar with a friend’s new boyfriend, who happens to be quite smitten with her writing and ideas. i had to end the conversation when he said rand was a more influential modern writer than joyce, because i was choking back tears.

    i’ve never laughed so hard in my entire life.

    personally, i’d rather read julius evola if i want to be clubbed over the head by prose.

  44. I’ve always found little bits of Rand here and there much more appealing than the whole that is too often presented as a ‘comprehensive’ philosophical system.

    There is a lot of value in Rand’s insistence that there is nothing wrong with self interest, and probably my favorite Randian comments are those about relationships. I know, she had issues, but she always gets credit for observing that love can’t be ‘all about sacrifice’ and that we too often mingle a poorly thought out appreciation for altruism with our personal lives. It seems to me there is an essential useful truthfulness in there.

    She has other observations that are very good, and some that seem more reflective of her neuroses than anything objective. All in all, I’m glad she was around and had a big soapbox.

    That painting would look good next to the ceramic dog in a skirt that my grandmother gave me one year …

  45. I guess nobody has anything constructive to say regarding what actual differences there are between objectivism and libertarianism! Oh well.

  46. Ok, short version:

    Libertarianism is a set of political positions, a theory of the proper scope of government. It has nothing to say, as such, about broader questions of personal virtue or any other philosophical question. You can hold that poltitical position for any number of reasons–maybe because you think it’s required by your religious convictions, maybe because you think small government is more efficient, maybe because you hold some other moral theory that fits with libertarian political institutions.

    Objectivism is a broad philosophical system which includes positions on a wide range of questions about politics, metaphysics, the nature of persons, epistemology, morality, etc. As it happens, the politics of objectivism are basically libertarian. Some objectivists don’t like to be called “libertarian” because they don’t want to be lumped in with people who hold libertarian political views for other (non-Objectivist) reasons.

    So, even shorter version: just about all Objectivists have libertarian politics (even if they don’t like the label), but only a fraction those who have libertarian politics are Objectivists.

  47. Chris, yer mostly right about the art and the comments.

    Thanks for the link–I like the posters best.

    How do you know this is objectivist art?

  48. The strongest difference in practice is that Objectivists believe that “true” ethics and aesthetics are discoverable from objective reality and reason, that there can only be one such set, and they’ve got them.

    Libertarians can, by their nature, accept a market in right and wrong or good and bad so long as the freedom of the market isn’t on the market.

  49. I’m sure I’ll pay dearly for saying this, but some of the artist’s other offerings are a lot less hideous than the Rand thing. Not my style, but not bad either. If you’re inclined you can get to the gallery through the link to Will Wilkinson’s site.

  50. Leonard Peikoff, of course. Though that’s the west-coast Catholic objectivism, not the east-coast Protestant objectivism.

  51. Sounds like another Ism I’m Glad I Isn’t.

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