Tom Wesselmann

02.23.1931 (United States) - 12.17.2004 (United States)

Portrait de Tom WESSELMANN


Tom Wesselmann was born on February 23, 1931 in Cincinnati, Ohio. From 1949 to 1951, he attended Hiram College before entering the University of Cincinnati. In 1953, he interrupted his studies for two years of military service, during which time he began drawing comic strips. In 1954, he returned to university, graduating in 1956 with a degree in psychology. At this point, he decided to pursue a career in comics and enrolled at the Cincinnati Academy of the Arts. After graduating in 1959, he moved to New York, where he was accepted at Cooper Union and concentrated on art.

Wesselmann was one of the leading American pop artists of the 1960s. While many artists abandoned figurative painting in favor of abstraction, Tom Wesselmann took the opposite tack, focusing his work on the elements of everyday life. He draws inspiration from advertising imagery and depicts his vision of modern life. The artist became famous for her female nudes in the 1960s. The Great American Naked series remains the artist’s best-known, with its bold shapes and vibrant colors.

In the 1970s, Wesselmann continued to develop the ideas and explore the media that would preoccupy him throughout the 60s. In particular, his great Standing Still Life series, free-form oil paintings that depict small objects on a large scale. In 1980, Wesselmann, under the pseudonym Slim Stealingworth, wrote an autobiography documenting the development of his artistic work.

He continued to explore oil paintings of figures (first presented in the 1960s) and began to create his first works in metal. He pioneered the development of a laser-cutting application that enabled him to faithfully translate his creations into cut metal. During the 1990s and early 2000s, the artist deepened his themes by creating three-dimensional abstractions, which he described as “a return to what I was trying to do at the time”(1959). The circle is complete. In the last years of his life, he returned to the female form in his Sunset Nudes series of oil-on-canvas paintings, whose bold compositions, abstract imagery and optimistic mood often recall his Henri Matisse odalisques.

Wesselmann has been working in New York for over forty years. He lives in New York with his wife Claire, daughters Jenny and Kate and son Lane. He died on December 17, 2004.