WALL STREET JOURNAL – The Picasso Prescription

Wall Street Journal — November 30, 2001

There’s some cutting-edge contemporary art going on exhibit – but you might need surgery to see it.

Working on the theory that thought-provoking artwork can promote healing, a new nonprofit called RxArt is buying and installing sculptures and paintings in hospital rooms. First up: the patient quarters at Rockefeller University Hospital in New York. “The injured or ill need something positive to contemplate,” says Diane Brown, the group’s founder.

Hospitals, of course, have long used murals, earth-tone wallpaper and breezy (read: boring) drawings to brighten up the walls. But Ms. Brown isn’t interested in assembly-line artwork. RxArt fueled by private donations and grants, is spending up to $2,600 apiece for works by artists such as William Christenberry and Wolfgang Tillmans.

Ms. Brown hopes to outfit hospitals in New Jersey, Texas and California, too. But what happens if a patient hates abstract art? “They’ll have to take that up with their doctor,” she says.

  • – Brooke Barnes