Tom Wesselmann (1931 - 2004) was born in in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. He attended Hiram College in Ohio from 1949 to 1951 before entering the University of Cincinnati. In 1953 his studies were interrupted by a two-year enlistment in the army, during which time he began drawing cartoons. He returned to university in 1954 and received a bachelor's degree in psychology in 1956. After graduation he moved to New York, to study art at Cooper Union, receiving a diploma in 1959. Wesselmann had his first solo exhibition, which featured the first collages from his Great American Nude series, in 1961 at Tanager Gallery, New York.
Wesselmann is widely considered to have been one of the leading American Pop artists, well known for his collages, prints, paintings, and sculptures depicting still lifes, landscapes, and nudes. Over the course of his career, Wesselmann reinterpreted these themes using his own distinctive visual language, characterised by a reductive line and bold, flat primary colours, often incorporating symbols of American culture.
He also made a large body of etchings, aquatints and screenprints, and in 1978 the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, staged an exhibition dedicated to his graphic works. In 1984 Wesselmann began to make three-dimensional images in cut metal. He enlarged small doodles, cut them out of steel and aluminium and painted them in vivid colours. These drawings were composed of solid shapes and interior voids, becoming the ideal medium for adapting the clean lines and flattened forms of his paintings.
Wesselmann exhibited internationally throughout his lifetime, including several groundbreaking group exhibitions in the US in the 1970s and two major retrospectives that toured Europe and Japan in the mid-1990s. Recent solo presentations of his work include Nouveau Musée National de Monaco (2018); Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Quebec (2012), travelled to Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond; Denver Art Museum; and Cincinnati Art Museum; Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale, Florida (2010), travelled to the Kreeger Museum, Washington, D.C.; and Museo d'Arte Contemporanea di Roma, Italy (2005).
Wesselmann's works are included in numerous museum collections including Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain, Paris; Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid; Nationalgalerie, Berlin; Berardo Collection, Lisbon; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; and Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo.
Tom Wesselmann died aged 73 in 2004, in New York, USA.
Cristea Roberts Gallery is the exclusive worldwide representative for the prints and metal cut-out editions from the Tom Wesselmann Estate.
Exhibition: Tom Wesselmann: After Matisse
Musée Matisse explores the multiple ways Tom Wesselman turned the master of twentieth-century art into a pop icon.