Tom WESSELMANN ( 1931 - 2004 )

Tom Wesselmann was in Cincinnati in 1931 and attended university before serving in the Korean War during the early 1950s. While overseas he began to craft cartoons, and upon his return to the United States he earned a psychology degree from the University of Cincinnati. He then enrolled at the Art Academy of Cincinnati and later the Cooper Union in New York City, finishing his studies by the late 1950s. Having presumed he would continue cartoon work, Wesselmann was inspired by innovative exhibitions to go in a new direction and worked as a collagist, having initial showings at the Tanager and Green galleries by the early 1960s. Wesselmann began to create art that incorporated commonplace real-world items with historical portraiture, often focusing on a reclining female nude. Hence he became known for his "Great American Nude" series, linked to more classical works. Due to his particular aesthetic, he was seen, along with figures like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, as one of the purveyors of Pop Art, though Wesselmann stated that he didn't care for the term. Later in the decade his pieces were exhibited in Europe and Brazil. During the 1970s, Wesselmann completed his "Nude" series and went down a specific path with his "Standing Still Life" paintings, which featured objects such as keys and a toothbrush magnified to larger-than-life scale on canvas. He also became known for the "Smokers" series, zeroing in on disembodied presentations of hands and lips, and his "Bedroom Painting" art, with close-ups of objects, forms and faces in vivid color. Having become an established international artist who was also known for his printmaking, Wesselmann later played with ideas around sculpture and metalwork. In the new millennium he returned to the nude figure, this time in a more abstract sense though continuing his use of an electric palette.