Independent Gallery


Tom Wesselmann

Tom Wesselmann b.Cincinnati 1931-2004 New York

From 1951 until 1952 Tom Wesselmann studied psychology at Cincinnati University and then again between 1954 and 1956. During the latter period he also studied art. He moved to New York and attended the Cooper Union. In 1961 he held his first one-man show that consisted of small-scale images with collaged elements, mostly of figures in interiors that were to lead to a series of nudes.

One of these, Great American Nude # 1, painted in shades of red, white and blue with a passage of collage with the subject reclining in a pose from classical art, was to be the source of much of his subsequent large work.

Although the paintings in this series were to become more true to life and overtly erotic, they are never intimate. The formality and the strength of the composition combined with unmodulated brushwork as well as their scale prevents them from becoming objects of sexual desire.  Another obvious feature of most of Tom Wesselmann’s nudes is the omission of the eyes so that there can be no come hither looks.

He also produced life size tableaux incorporating real objects, many fully functioning, and collaged images of consumer goods from billboards combining them with art history and patriotic themes.

Sometimes canvases are shaped and on occasions grouped together to create a third dimension.

Using the full spectrum of media his editioned work is no less innovative. At times he painstakingly drew, painted and even embossed each individual print by hand. Yet he fully embraced the latest technology using the computer and laser to create multiples.