Tom Wesselmann 1931-2004


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Tom Wesselmann is widely-known as one of the leading pop artist of the 1960s. Wesselmann studied psychology at the University of Cincinnati before being drafted into the army in 1952. He was stationed stateside and began drawing cartoon strips in his free time, which he sold to magazines as 1000 Jokes and True. In 1956, Wesselmann was accepted by Cooper Union in New York to further his artistic studies.


In 1958, Wesselmann set his sights on becoming a professional painter. He met Alex Katz and learned of Roy Lichtenstein, Claus Oldenburg and James Rosenquist, who were also working in the Pop Art movement. Wesselmann mainly worked through assemblage, juxtaposing and collaging images. His most popular series are comprised of still lifes, sexually charged nude women and smokers. In 2008, his work Great American Nude No. 48 (1963) sold for $10.6 million, and Smoker #9 (1973) sold for over $6 million. In addition to working in painting, the artist also created aluminum sculptures and fashioned them in the same gestural style he used for painting. Wesselmann died in 2004 after completing his series of Sunset Nudes, which later went to auction in 2006 in New York.


Tom Wesselmann has work featured in the permanent collections of the Albright-Knox Art Museum in Buffalo, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C., the Smithsonian Museum of American Art in Washington D.C., the MoMA in New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.


Related Categories: Pop Art, Art of the 1960s, Post-War American Art, Americana, Erotic, Popular Culture, United States, Painting, Representation of Everyday Objects, Drawing.