Red bold lips, pronounced nipples, arresting tan lines. These simplified elements unfold into the arabesque forms of Tom Wesselmann’s figures. An extensive collection of Liquitex, drawings, steel cut-outs and prints by Wesselmann is soon to be on show at The Andipa Gallery in the upcoming exhibition Wesselmann Nudes.
It is the small details within the compositions that lure the viewer; the beads that drape around Monica’s bare neck, the socks on an unabashedly unclothed Rosemary. The figures sprawling across an open plane are positioned with such fluidity and immediacy that they are living forms in their own right. The works are confrontational, yet alluring, comedic yet sensual. Wesselmann plays with contradiction, his image of the female figure epitomizing the art historical convention of objectification while simultaneously satirizing it.
Wesselmann completed his studies at Cooper Union, New York, in the late 1950s with a concentration on drawing that soon developed into a passion for painting and collage. He took influence from the work of Willem de Kooning who provided both inspiration and inhibition, encouraging him to find new direction centered around a tangible subject. From Matisse’s sensual nudes to Mondrian’s geometric arrangements, Wesselmann continuously paid homage to many great masters throughout his career.
The bold, flat fresh tones and clean lines outlining the figure exposed gained Wesselmann an admiration that is forever standing. In the past three years alone, prices of his works have increased dramatically, sometimes reaching double their estimates at auction. With his ever-growing popularity, Wesselmann’s work today can be found within most museum and institution collections worldwide.
Wesselmann Nudes celebrates the intensity of colour, the tight formal composition and sensuous vitality of Tom Wesselmann’s work. A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition and includes the last recorded interview held in Wesselmann’s studio before his death in 2004. The exhibition can also be viewed online at www.andipa.com.