John Wesley (American, born November 25, 1928) is an American painter whose work bridges the aesthetics of Pop Art and Minimalism in both subject matter and style. A self-taught artist, Wesley began painting in 1953, while working as an illustrator for Northrop Aircraft in Los Angeles. His early career in the aircraft industry influenced his art, and lead to the presence of the airplane as a recurring motif in his work. In 1959, he married the American painter Jo Baer (b.1929), and one year later the couple moved to New York City, where Wesley would become part of the Pop Art movement and maintain close friendships with American Minimalist sculptors Donald Judd (1928–1994) and Dan Flavin (1933–1996).

Although Wesley’s work often expressed more playful qualities than the work Judd created, Judd was an immediate and important sponsor of Wesley’s paintings, positively reviewing his shows and helping him to establish his reputation as an artist. Although Wesley adopted the flattened and brightly colored forms of Pop Art, his work did not criticize consumerism and seemed removed from Pop Art’s goals as he turned more to narrative, combining cartoon elements into his particular brand of high art.

Timeline

1928
Born: in Los Angeles, CA
1946–1950
Studied at Los Angeles City College and at the University of California, Los Angeles, CA
1976
Guggenheim Fellowship
1989
National Endowment for the Arts Grant
1998
American Academy of Arts and Letters, Purchase Award
2004
American Academy of Arts and Letters, Purchase Award
2005
Skowhegan Award for Artistic Achievement, Medal in Painting
2006
The Armory Show, Flagship Artist
Skowhegan Medal for Artistic Achievement in Painting, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, ME

Exhibitions

2009
"Naked", John Kasmin Gallery, New York, NY
"Cheep!", El Sourdog Hex, Berlin, Germany
"John Wesley: Question of Women", Fredericks & Freiser, New York, NY (solo)
2008
"Tracings: From the 1960's On", Fredericks & Freiser, New York, NY
"People", Jim Kempner Fine Art, New York, NY
Waddington Galleries, London, UK
"There is Desire Left (Knock, Knock) – 40 Years of Fine Arts from the Mondstudio Collection", Kunstmuseum Berne, Switzerland
"Question of Woman", Fredericks & Freiser, New York, NY (solo)
2007
"The Bumsteads," Fredericks & Freiser, New York, NY (solo)
Daniel Weinberg Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
"Two Years," The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
"Equal, That Is, To The Real Itself," Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, NY
2006
"John Wesley Retrospective: Works on Paper 1960-2005," Kunsthalle Nurnberg, Nurnberg, Germany
"R. Crumb, Roy Lichtenstein, John Wesley," Galerie Hyundai, Seoul, South Korea
2005
"Don’t Eat My Eagle: Paintings from the 1960’s", Fredericks & Freiser, New York, NY
"John Wesley Retrospective: Works on Paper 1960-2005", Krefeld Kunstmuseen, Krefeld, Germany (solo)
"After Cezanne," Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA
"On Paper: Drawings from the 1960’s to the Present," Daniel Weinberg, Los Angeles, CA
"It’ll Cost You…," Artek Contemporaries, New York, NY
"POP," University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, MI
"Tete a Tete," Greenberg Van Doren, New York, NY
"Surface", Lucas Schoormans Gallery, New York, NY
2004–2005
"Disparities and Deformations: Out Grotesque", SITE Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM
"Don't Eat My Eagle: Paintings from the 1960s", Fredericks & Freiser, New York, NY (solo)
2004
"Recent Paintings: 2000-2004 / Drawings from the 1960’s," Daniel Weinberg Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
"Paintings on Paper," Chinati Foundation, Marfa, TX
"Funny Cuts- Cartoons and Comics in Contemporary Art," Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart, Germany
"The Big Nothing," Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA
"Line," Hines Gallery at West 52, New York, NY
"International Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture," American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, NY
"Figurative Work on Paper by 20th Century Masters," The Elkon Gallery, New York, NY
2003
"New Paintings," Fredericks Freiser Gallery, New York, NY
"Paintings on Paper," Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
"Funny Papers," Daniel Weinberg Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2002
"New Paintings," Gagosian Gallery, London, UK
"New Paintings", Fredericks Freiser Gallery, New York, NY
"Time and Again," Daniel Weinberg Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
"The Presidential Suite," Nassau County Museum of Art, NY
"New York Painting & Sculpture," Wall Street Rising, New York, NY
Fredericks Freiser Gallery, New York, NY
2001
"John Wesley Love’s Lust," Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (solo)
Onnasch Austellungen, Berlin, Germany
"Pop Art: US/UK Connections 1956-66," The Menil Collection, Houston, TX
"The 'W' Show," Museum of Dole, Dole, France
"Locating Drawing," Lawing Gallery, Houston, TX
"Les Annes Pop," Centre George Pompidou, Paris, France
2000
"John Wesley: Retrospective," PS1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, NY(solo)
"Nudes," Texas Gallery, Houston, TX
Daniel Weinberg Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
"The Figure: Another Side of Modernism Paintings from 1950 to the Present," Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, Staten Island, NY
1999
"Irish Paintings", Jessica Fredericks Gallery, New York, NY
1998
"Favorite Works", Jessica Fredericks Gallery, New York, NY
"Paintings and Gouaches" Chinati Foundation, Marfa, TX
"Women" Danese Gallery, New York, NY
1996
"Man & Beast" Jessica Fredericks Gallery, New York, NY
1994
Jose Freire Fine Art, New York, NY
Galerie Rolf Ricke, Cologne, Germany
1993
"John Wesley: Retrospective" Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
"John Wesley: Retrospective", Portikus, Frankfurt, Germany
"John Wesley: Retrospective: Works on Paper", Kunstverein Ludwigsburg, Ludwigsburg, Germany
"Works on Paper", Galerie Marc Jancou, Zurich, Switzerland
101 Spring Street Gallery, New York, NY
1992
"A Retrospective View 1962-1992", Daniel Weinberg Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
"Twelve Nudes", Galerie Antoine Candau, Paris, France
1990
"Works on Paper", Drew Gallery, Canterbury, UK
Chinati Foundation, Marfa, TX
1989
Carl Solway Gallery, Cincinnati, OH
1984
Robert Elkon Gallery, New York, NY
1983
"Cheep! Paintings from the Years 1962 - 1982", Reinhard Onnasch Ausstellungen, Berlin, Germany
Robert Elkon Gallery, New York, NY
1982
Robert Elkon Gallery, New York, NY
1980
Robert Elkon Gallery, New York, NY
1979
Robert Elkon Gallery, New York, NY
1978
Robert Elkon Gallery, New York, NY
1976
Robert Elkon Gallery, New York, NY
1975
Robert Elkon Gallery, New York, NY
1974
University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
Robert Elkon Gallery, New York, NY
1973
Galerie Rudolf Zwirner, Cologne, Germany
Carl Solway Gallery, Cincinnati, OH
Robert Elkon Gallery, New York, NY
1969–1972
Robert Elkon Gallery, New York, NY
1967
Robert Elkon Gallery, New York, NY
1965
Robert Elkon Gallery, New York, NY
1963
Robert Elkon Gallery, New York, NY (solo)
"The Popular Image," Washington Gallery of Modern Art, Washington, DC
1958
Exodus Gallery, San Pedro, CA

Literature

2007
The Bumsteads. New York: Fredericks & Freiser, 2007 (catalogue)
2006
Myers, Terry R. John Wesley: A Collection. New York: Zwirner and Wirth, 2006 (catalogue)
2004
Disparities & Deforamations: Our Grotesque, curated by Robert Storr. Sante Fe: Site Santa Fe, 2004 (catalogue)
2003.
POP thru OUT. Cheonan, South Korea: Arario Gallery, 2003 (catalogue)
2000
Heiss, Alanna. John Wesley: Paintings 1961-2000 (1st ed.). New York: Distributed Art Publishers, 2000