Tom Wesselmann United States, 1931-2004


Tom Wesselmann (b. 1931, Cincinnati, Ohio; d. 2004, New York, New York) was an American post-war artist who worked with a diverse range of mediums including painting, sculpture, assemblage, collage, drawing and printmaking. Wesselmann began his career as a cartoonist and went on to study fine arts at Cooper Union. While Wesselmann painted examples of various genres including landscapes and still lifes, his most celebrated works are those that depict the female nude. With bright blocks of color and polished lines, Wesselmann portrayed the female body in a sensual and burlesque manner. Wesselmann is often categorized as a Pop artist, although he rejected this label on the grounds that his work does not engage in a critique of consumerism, as Pop Art typically does. The women in Wesselmann’s work are confident and relaxed: they dangle cigarettes from their rouge lips and flaunt extreme tan lines. Given the similarity in aesthetic approach and incorporation of popular culture into fine art, Wesselmann’s work has been likened to that of his contemporaries Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist and Alex Katz. His work is held in several major international collections including The Museum of Modem Art, New York; Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, Nice; Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt; Guggenheim, Abu Dhabi and Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo.