Tom Wesselmann was an American painter born in Cincinnati (Ohio) 1931 and died in NewYork 2004.
He was one of the leaders of the American Pop Art Movement. He studied psychology in the Cincinnati University. In response to his enlistment into the army in 1952, he started to draw. He then resumed his studies at the ‘Cincinnati Art Academy’ in 1954 and in the ‘Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art’ in New York in 1956. In 1959, he created small abstract collages, under the influence of Matisse and De Koooning, two opposite models. In 1960, he essentially painted objects and landscapes. In 1961, his first personal exhibition took place in New York. In 1963, he participated to the exhibition “Pop goes the East” in the ‘Contemporary Arts Museum’ in Houston. In the 70s, he worked on paintings he would take down from the wall, cancelling by this action the distinction between painting and sculpture. From 1983, he devoted to gaily coloured drawings based on sketches’ enlargements, then transferred on aluminum or steel. His work can be devided into two major series: women nudes and still life realized with found objects and pictures collages cut out from magazines. Eroticism is constantly present in his series of the “Great American Nude” whose topic is the advertising cliché personified by a woman whose attributes are strongly underlined : sensual open mouth, bright teeth, attractive hips and thighs, pubic hair in full view. The setting is always very poor, a room or a living room where, hung on the walls, appear either portraits of American historical characters, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, or paintings of artists such as Cézanne, Matisse, Mondrian, Lichtenstein, Motherwell. The decorative element has always been present. His women nudes are both provocative and depersonalized. The woman is only an anonymous sexual object used to stimulate the sales of mass consumption objects of everyday life. Other symbols indicating the social status, such as the car, are monumentalized and transposed in a synthetic universe stifling all natural things.