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Tom Wesselmann

 

TOM WESSELMANN

Monica, 1985-89

enamel on laser-cut steel
36 x 30 inches

 

Tom Wesselmann is one of the most influential Pop artists with Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. He devoted his career to rejecting Abstract Expressionism in favor of a reinvention of traditional genres, most famously the nude.


Wesselmann planned to be a cartoonist until his last year at the Cooper Union in New York, where he studied from 1956 to 1959 (his academic career started in Ohio, was interrupted by two years of army service and continued with a BA in psychology and further art studies in Cincinnati and New York City. He had his first exhibition at JudsonGallery in 1959). He started with collages of torn paper and found materials and continued with large compositions, still-lifes of common household objects and advertising ephemera. His trademark style is very literal, with flat forms and intense, primary colors.


While experimenting with the incorporation of various materials in his work, he discovered how to “draw in steel” in 1983 and embraced it as a method to transform his intense and observant sketches into three-dimensional objects which retained the same characteristics. After a year of research and development, the artist started with hand-cut aluminum and was then able to cut steel with the desired precision to recreate the trademark fluid, confident lines of his drawings. This innovative method, exemplified by the figure of “Monica,” allowed Wesselmann to artistically blur the boundaries between drawing and sculpture, confusion illustrated by a letter from the Whitney Museum following a 1985 acquisition whether it should be labeled a sculpture instead of a drawing.


Wesselmann’s work has been exhibited internationally and is part of important museum collections such as Whitney Museum of American Art, MOMA, Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Art Institute of Chicago, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Dallas Museum of Fine Art, High Museum of Art, Walker Art Center, Phoenix Art Museum, Ludwig Museum, Cologne, National Galerie, Berlin, Museum fur Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main and many others.


Wesselman’s work has been exhibited internationally and is part of important museum collections such as Whitney Museum of American Art, MOMA, Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Art Institute of Chicago, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Dallas Museum of Fine Art, High Museum of Art, Walker Art Center, Phoenix Art Museum, Ludwig Museum, Cologne, National Galerie, Berlin, Museum fur Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main and many others.