Tom Wesselmann (Cincinnati 1931-2004 New York) Study for great American nude #90, 1966 Liquitex on paper 46.4 x 55.2 cm Signed and dated Provenance: Sidney Janis Gallery, New York; David Janis Gallery, New York; Maxwell Davidson Gallery, New York Literature: Tom Wesselmann: a Pop Art Legend, Samuel Vanhoegaerden Gallery, Knokke, 2023, ill.
Tom Wesselmann (1931-2004), one of the leading figures of Pop Art. Earliest works: collages of American living rooms. These first works date from the late 1950s and early 1960s and were primarily collages made from wallpaper and advertisements, sometimes combined with painted nudes in American interiors. These works are extremely rare and are mostly found in museum collections around the world. Two small works of this kind will be shown at BRAFA. Great American Nudes: The introduction to Henri Matisse's fauvist works in the early 1960s inspired Tom Wesselmann to create his legendary "Great American Nude" series. Wesselmann succeeded in transforming the historical nude as we have known it for centuries into his own style, reducing the erotic charge of the naked woman, and never making the viewer feel uncomfortable. Steelcut works: In the early 1980s, Tom Wesselmann reinvented himself and brought innovation to modern art with the famous "steelcut works." Thanks to the introduction of laser technology, Wesselmann could draw and cut into steel plates, replacing traditional materials such as canvas and paper with steel and aluminum. The artist said about this: "It was so exciting. It was as if I were suddenly an entirely new artist." Although the artist temporarily switched to a different medium, he remained faithful to the themes he had explored since the beginning of his career: the tradition of the nude, still lifes, and occasionally landscape works. With this innovative laser cutting technique, Tom Wesselmann managed to create a sketch-like yet unprecedented linear elegance. Although the works appear as freshly painted wall drawings (the influence of street art from the 1980s is undeniable), each work underwent a careful process in which the drawing was precision-cut using the laser. Tom Wesselmann then hand-painted them in black, gray, or color. Even after forty years, this laser technique retains an unparalleled freshness, giving these artworks an unmistakable contemporary appeal. The Samuel Vanhoegaerden Gallery will dedicate this BRAFA edition entirely to Tom Wesselmann. The exhibited collection is the result of years of careful searching and collecting from around the world.