Tom Wesselmann - Contemporary Art Part II New York Thursday, November 15, 2007 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Evan Janis Fine Art, Ltd., New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    “I am searching for the other’s body, he wrote. I am calm, attentive, as if I
    were confronted by a strange insect of which I am suddenly no longer
    afraid. Certain parts of the body are particularly appropriate to this
    observation, eyelashes, nails, roots of the hair, the incomplete objects.”
    R.Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments, NewYork, 1978
    “When I started working big, eroticism was a component of my work. It was
    just like part of the collage, like everything else. It was not the point of the
    work, because my work has always been more formal, more composed,
    than to be that involved with making something erotic. But eroticism was,
    especially in the beginning, part of my work. Originally it was part of my
    work like Abstract Expressionist brushwork was: it was—we didn’t have the
    expression then—‘in your face’. Since I couldn’t use the Abstract
    Expressionist brushwork anymore—I had dropped that—I had to find other
    ways of making the painting, the image, aggressive. And moving forward
    like that—Abstract Expressionist paintings were always moving forward,
    and the shapes were constantly off the canvas, in your eye, in your face—
    eroticism was one of the tools for me to try to accomplish that.”
    T. Buschsteiner & O. Letze, eds., Tom Wesselmann, Ostfildern, 1996
    The female nude is an age-old motif in figural painting, a subject
    historically treated with a delicacy and tastefulness bordering on
    reverence.TomWesselmann, by way of translating the visceral energy of
    Abstract Expressionist gesture into the flat, graphic style that would
    become indelibly associated with Pop art, seized upon the image of the
    female nude as an outlet for this energy in the early 1960s and never looked
    back. His iconic nudes, rendered over the course of his career in the
    form of paintings, drawings, collage and metalwork, are uniformly reduced
    to flat textures, primary colors, and key physical attributes—lips,
    nipples—that forcefully exude a previously unheard-of degree of sensuality
    and eroticism without ever descending into vulgarity. “Almost without
    exception,Wesselmann’s images appeal to the pleasure principle within
    us and contribute to the sense of delectation exuded on a more visceral
    level by the conjunction of particular shapes, textures, and colors.
    The selection of motif is only part of the equation by which the artist
    conveys sensations of desire to the point of satiation.” (Ibid.)

  • Artist Biography

    Tom Wesselmann

    American • 1931 - 2004

    As a former cartoonist and leading figure of the Pop Art movement, Tom Wesselmann spent many years of his life repurposing popular imagery to produce small to large-scale works that burst with color. Active at a time when artists were moving away from the realism of figurative painting and growing increasingly interested in abstraction, Wesselmann opted for an antithetical approach: He took elements of city life that were both sensual and practical and represented them in a way that mirrored Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol's own methodologies.

    Wesselmann considered pop culture objects as exclusively visual elements and incorporated them in his works as pure containers of bold color. This color palette became the foundation for his now-iconic suggestive figurative canvases, often depicting reclining nudes or women's lips balancing a cigarette.

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Nude 2/12/99

Oil on canvas.
23 7/8 x 43 3/4 in. (60.6 x 111.1 cm).

Signed and dated “Wesselmann 99”
lower right; titled, inscribed and dated “oil on canvas CD 39 NUDE 2/12/99 Blonde on Red
1999 Caddmions 200M” on the overlap.

$200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for $349,000

Contemporary Art Part II

16 Nov 2007, 10am & 2pm
New York