Tom Wesselmann once said about his work, “the prime mission of my art, in the beginning, and continuing still, is to make figurative art as exciting as abstract art.” And indeed, the artist did just that with his high-contrast, highly stylized, primary-color nudes and other depictions of the body he set down in paint, sculpture and collage.
Tom Wesselmann, Nude, 1968
Very Good / Mint Condition
Buy Now >
Wesselmann was born in Cincinnati in 1931 and was drafted into the Korean War in 1952, though he served stateside. It was during his service years that he first dabbled in artwork, producing comics and eventually enrolling in the Art Academy of Cincinnati, where he studied drawing. Shortly after his time at the Academy, he sold his first cartoons to magazines. He was eventually accepted to Cooper Union in New York City, where he would later work at the High School of Art and Design and become a founding member of the Judson Gallery along with Marcus Ratliff and Jim Dine.
His first solo show was held at the Tanager Gallery, where his Great American Nude series of collages—which utilize red, white, blue and khaki paint colors, along with real-world objects, to depicted figures of nude women in new, novel ways—put him on the map in the art world. He quickly followed up with another one-man exhibition and was soon associated by art press as a member of the burgeoning pop art movement, though he expressed resentment at being labeled a pop artist. As Henry Galdzahler observed, “Wesselmann, [...] Warhol, Rosenquist and Lichtenstein [...] were working independently, unaware of each other, but drawing on a common source of imagination. In the space of a year and a half they put on exhibitions [and] created a movement.”
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Wesselmann continued painting nudes, and eventually transitioned into creating in sculpture and other media. He died in 2004, leaving pieces in the permanent collections of the Tate Gallery in London, the Art Institute of Chicago, the MoMA and other top-tier museums.
Tom Wesselmann, Smoker, 1996
Embossed Lithograph, Signed & Numbered
Buy Now >