Study for Picasso for Sunset Nude with Picasso
Ink and colored pencil on 100% rag tracing paper
Sheet: 4-1/2″ x 5-1/8″ (11.4 x 12 cm)
Image: 2-3/4″ x 2-1/2″ (7 x 6.4 cm)
Framed: 10-7/8″ x 10-5/8″ (27.6 x 27 cm)
Tom Wesselmann (1931–2004) made pivotal contributions to the American Pop Art movement. Distinguished for colorful paintings, sculpture, prints, and drawings that depict nudes, everyday objects, and avant-garde abstractions, Wesselmann’s graceful line, tight formal compositions, and highly polished style are instantly recognizable and visually enticing.
Tom Wesselmann was born in a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1931. He attended Hiram College from 1949–1951 and was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1952, during the Korean War. However, he served as a reconnaissance aerial photography interpreter in the United States. Once discharged, Wesselmann began his study in drawing at the Art Academy of Cincinnati with the intention of becoming a magazine cartoonist. Wesselmann’s cartoons were published in several magazines including The New Yorker.
With some early success, Wesselmann was encouraged to advance his career in cartoons and moved to New York in 1956 to attended Cooper Union. There he was inspired by the work of modern artists including Robert Motherwell and Willem de Kooning. Wesselmann’s experience with Abstract Expressionism and courses in philosophy slowly shifted his desired career away from cartoons. In 1958, during a trip to rural New Jersey, Wesselmann finally put cartooning aside, in favor of a career in fine art. Along with Jim Dine and Marc Ratliff, Wesselmann founded the Judson Gallery. There he showed his early collages, but continued to teach in the Brooklyn public school system to earn a living.
In the early 1960s, inspired by the evocative work of Willem de Kooning, Wesselmann began creating collages of paper and other media. His nudes, which first began as small compositions, later transformed into the large-scale “Great American Nudes,” which were a pivotal series in gaining attention from the art world. Along with the depiction of everyday objects and images appropriated from advertisements, Wesselmann’s nudes established his place as one of the founders of the Pop Art movement.
With the help of Alex Katz, Wesselmann’s first solo exhibition was held at the New York Tanager Gallery in 1961. The following year Wesselmann took part in the “New Realists” show at Sidney Janis Gallery, an international show that represented a major shift away from Abstract Expressionism toward Pop Art.
Throughout the course of Wesselmann’s highly successful career, his work became increasingly abstract. Both his so-called “Smoker” and “Bedroom Painting” series represent a tension between erotic subject matter and purely abstract compositions.
Wesselmann’s works are held in major national and international collections including—but not limited to: the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Louisiana Museum, Humblebaek, Denmark; and the Tokyo Central Museum, Japan.
Wesselmann died in New York in 2004.
2018 – “Tom Wesselmann, Standing Still Lives,” Gagosian, New York
2018 – “Tom Wesselmann: La Promesse du Bonheur,” Le Nouveau Museé National de Monaco, Monaco, France
2017 – “Tom Wesselmann — Telling It Like It Is,” Vedovi Gallery, Brussels, Belgium
2017 – “Tom Wesselmann, Bedroom Paintings,” Gagosian, London, England
2016 – “Tom Wesselmann Collages,” David Zwirner Gallery, London, England
2016 – “A Different Kind of Woman,” Almine Rech Gallery, Paris, France
2015 – “A Line to Greatness,” Galerie Gmurzynska, St. Moritz, Switzerland
2014 – “Beyond Pop Art; A Tom Wesselmann Retrospective,” Denver Art Museum; Traveled to Cincinnati Art Museum; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond
2013 – “Still Life, Nude, Landscape: The Late Prints,” Alan Cristea Gallery, London, England
2013 – Pop Art Accrochage, Fluegel-Roncak Gallery, Nuremberg, Germany
2013 – “Beyond Pop Art,” The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, Quebek
2011 – “Grafiken,” Galerie Klaus Benden, Cologne, Germany
2011 – “Tom Wesselmann,” Kreeger Museum, Washington, District of Columbia
2010 – “Tom Wesselmann Draws,” Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
2010 – “Tom Wesselmann: 1958-2004,” Haunch of Venison Gallery, London, United Kingdom
2008 – “Dessins, Gouaches, Maquettes et Peintures,” JGM Galerie, Paris, France
2007 – “Tom Wesselmann,” The Columns Galler, Seoul, Korea
2007 – “Tom Wesselmann: Drop-Out,” Maxwell Davidson Gallery, New York, New York
2006 – “Tom Wesselmann: Nudes,” The Andipa Gallery, London, United Kingdom
2004 – Galerie Rive Gauches, Paris, France
2000 – “Tom Wesselmann: Blue Nudes,” Joseph Helman Gallery, New York, New York
1999 – “Tom Wesselmann: Small Survey: Small Scale,” Maxwell Davidson Galerie, Munich, Germany
1993 – “Tom Wesselmann: New Cut Outs and Drawings,” Wassermann Galerie, Munich, Germany
1992 – Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, New York
1991 – Galerie Tokoro, Tokyo, Japan
1985 – Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, New York
1982 – “Recent Work by Tom Wesselmann,” Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, New York
1981 – Hokin Gallery, Miami, Florida
1980 – “New Sculpture and Paintings by Tom Wesselmann,” Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, New York
1979 – Ehrich Gallery, New York, New York
1979 – Galerie Serge di Bloe, Brussels, Belgium
1978 – “Tom Wesselmann: Graphics 1964-1977,” Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Massachusetts
1976 – Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, New York
NPR – “Naked Or Nude? Wesselmann’s Models are a Little Bit of Both,” by Susan Stamberg
Archives of American Art – “Oral History Interview with Tom Wesselmann,” by Irving Sandler
The New York Times – Tom Wesselmann commemorative article by Roberta Smith
The New York Times – “Art in Review; Tom Wesselmann,” by Grace Glueck