Tom Wesselmann - Contemporary Art Day Sale London Thursday, February 12, 2009 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist; Galerie Benden & Klimczac, Cologne; Galerie Hafenrichter & Flügel, Nuremberg

  • Literature

    Exhibition catalogue, Galerie Benden & Klimczac, Tom Wesselmann: Blue Nudes, 1999-2001, Cologne, 2006, pp. 12-13 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Tom Wesselmann was never comfortable with the label of Pop Artist since he saw his work more within the context of classical modern masters such as Picasso, Yves Klein and Matisse. It is therefore certainly no coincidence that Wesselmann paid such concentrated attention to the colour blue in his work. Reminiscent of Yves Klein's experiments with International Klein Blue and Picasso's use of the colour in his legendary Blue Period, Wesselmann created a sense of space and surface as well as a tension between the two, through the use of this singular colour. In the present lot Wesselmann transcends classical perspective, breaking it down without losing a sense of depth. It is this balance act between the two-and-three dimensional worlds that has characterized Wesselmann's art from the very beginning. Blue nude #4 is an early example of Wesselmann's Blue Nudes from 1999 to 2002. As with so many of Wesselmann's paintings of nudes this body of work was based on sketches which he made of his wife Claire. However, the greater inspiration for his Blue Nudes undoubtedly comes from Matisse and his own Blue Nudes from the early 50s. Matisse's Blue Nudes mark a turning point in his long and illustrious career where the borders between image and illustration, space and surface, became irrevocably blurred and intermingled. Wesselmann however was not interested in merely exploiting the earlier master's discoveries, but rather expanding upon them and translating them into a new, contemporary language. Wesselmann describes his affinity to Matisse: "I felt a strong obligation, in a sense, to be the next in line, or to take up the next position in the whole progression... [from] Matisse [to the] present" (quoted in: C.W. Glenn with M.K Lombino, Tom Wesselmann: The Intimate Images, University Art Museum, Long Beach, CA 2003, p.4.)

  • 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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Blue Nude #4

Oil on cut-out aluminium.
109.2 x 99 cm. (43 x 39 in).
Signed and dated ‘Wesselmann 99' on the reverse.

£80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for £94,850

Contemporary Art Day Sale

13 Feb 2009, 2pm