Despite the similarity of their surnames, Ayn Rand (born Alisa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum) was not related to Paul Rand (born Peretz Rosenbaum).
I learned about Ayn before I even heard of Paul. When I was a young teen, I was taken by my best friend’s mom to The Nathaniel Branden Institute (NBI) in NYC (the real life “Simpson’s Ayn Rand School for Tots”), where Rand’s “Objectivist” philosophy was preached daily.
Objectivism, which prominently permeates Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, holds that reality “exists independent of consciousness, that human beings have direct contact with reality through sense perception, that one can attain objective knowledge from perception through the process of concept formation and inductive and deductive logic, that the proper moral purpose of one’s life is the pursuit of one’s own happiness or rational self-interest, that the only social system consistent with this morality is full respect for individual rights, embodied in pure laissez faire capitalism.”
This concept, which attracted many a maleable 60s teenager, dubiously proposed that art existed to “transform man’s widest metaphysical ideas, by selective reproduction of reality, into a physical form.” This was illustrated throughout Rand’s turgid novel The Fountainhead, which introduced the ideological individualist architect Howard Roark and proffered modernism as a symbol of capitalist aesthetics to the world. Even as a teen, I was not impressed.
[Image above from The Simpsons; the stylish Ayn Rand below]