"When men can freely communicate their thoughts and their

  • Paul Rand, "When men can freely communicate their thoughts and their , 1954, nails, wood, crayon, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Container Corporation of America, 1984.124.242

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Paul Rand created this collage to illustrate a quote by Thomas Erskine for the Container Corporation of America. The inspiration for the design came from a painting in a book on Etruscan art, which depicted the profile of a face with what the artist described as "haunting eyes." Rand drew a face with wide, staring eyes and covered mouth to suggest an individual who is unable to speak. The image evokes a sense of despair or fear, emphasizing the importance of free speech.

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"The sources of pictorial ideas are without limit: a visit to the museum, a casual glance at a picture postcard or shop window, or something seen the day before in a book or newspaper are potential sources of information." Paul Rand, "A Designer's Art," 1985 "When men can freely communicate their thoughts and their sufferings, real or imaginary, their passions spend themselves in air, like gunpowder scattered upon the surface; but pent up by terrors, they work unseen, burst forth in a moment, and destroy everything in their course." Thomas Erskine, on the advantages of free speech, Rex v. Paine (1792)
Title
"When men can freely communicate their thoughts and their sufferings, real or imaginary, their passions spend themselves in air, like gunpowder scattered upon the surface; but pent up by terrors, they work unseen, burst forth in a moment, and destroy everything in their course."--Thomas Erskine, on the Advantages of Free Speech, Rex v. Paine, 1792. From the series Great Ideas of Western Man.
Artists
Date
1954
On View
Dimensions
9 3/4 x 7 x 1 1/4 in. (24.7 x 17.6 x 3.0 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Container Corporation of America

Mediums
Classifications
Keywords
  • Figure – fragment – eye
  • Literature – Erskine, Thomas – On the Advantages of Free Speech
Object Number
1984.124.242
Palette
URL
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI