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TOM WESSELMANN (1931-2004)

 
Tom Wesselmann’s supercharged colors mirror popular advertising while the lounging female forms allude to Western art history’s classic figurative motif. A wonderful example of this synthesis is the 1997 painting 1962 Plus 35 Nude Sketch II. Here, the reclining woman’s eyes are barely visible beneath the surface of the paint, yet her lips are a bold red with a thick black outline. The hyper-sexualized presentation of the female body seems to address the consumer culture of Post War America – the commoditization of the flesh. Wesselmann’s dazzling paintings bring together elements of art historical tradition and 1960s imagination, creating a singular style. Tom Wesselmann’s supercharged colors mirror popular advertising while the lounging female forms allude to Western art history’s classic figurative motif. A wonderful example of this synthesis is the 1997 painting 1962 Plus 35 Nude Sketch II. Here, the reclining woman’s eyes are barely visible beneath the surface of the paint, yet her lips are a bold red with a thick black outline. The hyper-sexualized presentation of the female body seems to address the consumer culture of Post War America – the commoditization of the flesh. Wesselmann’s dazzling paintings bring together elements of art historical tradition and 1960s imagination, creating a singular style. Tom Wesselmann’s supercharged colors mirror popular advertising while the lounging female forms allude to Western art history’s classic figurative motif. A wonderful example of this synthesis is the 1997 painting 1962 Plus 35 Nude Sketch II. Here, the reclining woman’s eyes are barely visible beneath the surface of the paint, yet her lips are a bold red with a thick black outline. The hyper-sexualized presentation of the female body seems to address the consumer culture of Post War America – the commoditization of the flesh. Wesselmann’s dazzling paintings bring together elements of art historical tradition and 1960s imagination, creating a singular style. Tom Wesselmann’s supercharged colors mirror popular advertising while the lounging female forms allude to Western art history’s classic figurative motif. A wonderful example of this synthesis is the 1997 painting 1962 Plus 35 Nude Sketch II. Here, the reclining woman’s eyes are barely visible beneath the surface of the paint, yet her lips are a bold red with a thick black outline. The hyper-sexualized presentation of the female body seems to address the consumer culture of Post War America – the commoditization of the flesh. Wesselmann’s dazzling paintings bring together elements of art historical tradition and 1960s imagination, creating a singular style. Tom Wesselmann’s supercharged colors mirror popular advertising while the lounging female forms allude to Western art history’s classic figurative motif. A wonderful example of this synthesis is the 1997 painting 1962 Plus 35 Nude Sketch II. Here, the reclining woman’s eyes are barely visible beneath the surface of the paint, yet her lips are a bold red with a thick black outline. The hyper-sexualized presentation of the female body seems to address the consumer culture of Post War America – the commoditization of the flesh. Wesselmann’s dazzling paintings bring together elements of art historical tradition and 1960s imagination, creating a singular style. Tom Wesselmann’s supercharged colors mirror popular advertising while the lounging female forms allude to Western art history’s classic figurative motif. A wonderful example of this synthesis is the 1997 painting 1962 Plus 35 Nude Sketch II. Here, the reclining woman’s eyes are barely visible beneath the surface of the paint, yet her lips are a bold red with a thick black outline. The hyper-sexualized presentation of the female body seems to address the consumer culture of Post War America – the commoditization of the flesh. Wesselmann’s dazzling paintings bring together elements of art historical tradition and 1960s imagination, creating a singular style. Tom Wesselmann’s supercharged colors mirror popular advertising while the lounging female forms allude to Western art history’s classic figurative motif. A wonderful example of this synthesis is the 1997 painting 1962 Plus 35 Nude Sketch II. Here, the reclining woman’s eyes are barely visible beneath the surface of the paint, yet her lips are a bold red with a thick black outline. The hyper-sexualized presentation of the female body seems to address the consumer culture of Post War America – the commoditization of the flesh. Wesselmann’s dazzling paintings bring together elements of art historical tradition and 1960s imagination, creating a singular style. Tom Wesselmann’s supercharged colors mirror popular advertising while the lounging female forms allude to Western art history’s classic figurative motif. A wonderful example of this synthesis is the 1997 painting 1962 Plus 35 Nude Sketch II. Here, the reclining woman’s eyes are barely visible beneath the surface of the paint, yet her lips are a bold red with a thick black outline. The hyper-sexualized presentation of the female body seems to address the consumer culture of Post War America – the commoditization of the flesh. Wesselmann’s dazzling paintings bring together elements of art historical tradition and 1960s imagination, creating a singular style. Tom Wesselmann’s supercharged colors mirror popular advertising while the lounging female forms allude to Western art history’s classic figurative motif. A wonderful example of this synthesis is the 1997 painting 1962 Plus 35 Nude Sketch II. Here, the reclining woman’s eyes are barely visible beneath the surface of the paint, yet her lips are a bold red with a thick black outline. The hyper-sexualized presentation of the female body seems to address the consumer culture of Post War America – the commoditization of the flesh. Wesselmann’s dazzling paintings bring together elements of art historical tradition and 1960s imagination, creating a singular style. Tom Wesselmann’s supercharged colors mirror popular advertising while the lounging female forms allude to Western art history’s classic figurative motif. A wonderful example of this synthesis is the 1997 painting 1962 Plus 35 Nude Sketch II. Here, the reclining woman’s eyes are barely visible beneath the surface of the paint, yet her lips are a bold red with a thick black outline. The hyper-sexualized presentation of the female body seems to address the consumer culture of Post War America – the commoditization of the flesh. Wesselmann’s dazzling paintings bring together elements of art historical tradition and 1960s imagination, creating a singular style.
1962 Plus 35 Nude Sketch II199743 x 58 5/8 in.(109.22 x 148.91 cm) alkyd oil on canvas
Provenance
Buschlen Mowatt Gallery, Vancouver, BC
Private Collection, Vancouver, BC, acquired from above 2001
Private Collection, Florida
Tom Wesselmann’s supercharged colors mirror popular advertising while the lounging female forms allude to Western art history’s classic figurative motif. A wonderful example of this synthesis is the 1997 painting 1962 Plus 35 Nude Sketch II. Here, the reclining woman’s eyes are barely visible beneath the surface of the paint, yet her lips are a bold red with a thick black outline. The hyper-sexualized presentation of the female body seems to address the consumer culture of Post War America – the commoditization of the flesh. Wesselmann’s dazzling paintings bring together elements of art historical tradition and 1960s imagination, creating a singular style.
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INTRO TEXT

“I don’t depict nudes from any sociological, cultural, or emotional intentions. My one intention is to always find new ways to make exciting paintings using the situation of the traditional nude.” – Tom Wesselmann

History

When asked to imagine contemporary or modern art, what does your mind conjure? It could be the stark minimalism of Agnes Martin, the dynamic abstraction of Sam Francis, or in this case, the coolly detached Pop of Tom Wesselmann. On the surface, these works and similar pieces seem united by a break from the history of art. Gone are references to other artists and to traditions of art.

Dig a little deeper and the Wesselmann painting reveals itself as indebted to a history of art, specifically a history of nude. Wesselmann pushes the possibilities of this tradition by commenting on society’s mores. But before we can understand how this painting fits this lineage, we must first survey its history and evolution.

The nude has long been an important part of art and society with some of humanity’s earliest artworks being nudes, including the Venus of Willendorf. The most commonly understood function of this 29,500-year-old figure is that it was a fertility figure, due to the curved emphasis on body parts associated with birth and childbearing.

Jumping to ancient Greece, two different figural statues continue the lineage of the nude – the male kouros and female kore. Although both often functioned as offerings, only the male is depicted without clothing. The homoeroticism of Ancient Greece pushes us to grapple with a question that will surface time and again when confronting the naked form – how much does eroticism play in interpreting or consuming these images?

More
  • Statue of the Aphrodite
    Statue of the Aphrodite of Knidos, 2nd Century Roman copy, The Art Institute of Chicago
  • Venus of Urbino
    Titian, “Venus of Urbino”, 1538, oil on canvas, Uffizi Gallery
  • Edouard_Manet-Olympia
    Édouard Manet, “Olympia”, 1863, oil on canvas, Musée d’Orsay
  • Les Demoiselles
    Pablo Picasso, “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”, 1907, oil on canvas, Musem of Modern Art
  • The Naked Maja
    Francisco Goya,”The Naked Maja”, 1795-1800, oil on canvas, Museo del Prado
  • louvre-sleeping-hermaphrodite
    Sleeping Hermaphroditos, date unknown, Louvre
“The prime mission of my art, in the beginning, and continuing still, is to make figurative art as exciting as abstract art.” – Tom Wesselmann

MARKET INSIGHTS

  • Wesselmann_AMR_10_Year
  • Wesselmann_AMR_1976
  • The graphs prepared by Art Market Research show that since 1976, paintings by Wesselmann have increased at a 6.2% annual rate of return, and a 4.5% annual rate of return in the past ten years.
  • 1962 Plus 35 Nude Sketch II relates back to Wesselmann’s iconic Great American Nude series of the 1960s and ’70s. Works from that series achieve the highest prices for the artist at auction and are housed in the collections of major museums, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
  • The style and vibrancy of this painting clearly shows the influence of Pop Art. Andy Warhol and fellow Pop Art icon Roy Lichtenstein were far more prolific than Wesselmann, meaning that there are far fewer great examples of Wesselmann’s work available for acquisition.

Top Results at Auction

"Great American Nude no. 48" (1963), oil and collage on canvas, acrylic and collage on board, enameled radiator and assemblage, 84 x 106.7 in. Sold at Sotheby’s New York: May 2008 for $10,681,000 USD
“Great American Nude no. 48” (1963), oil and collage on canvas, acrylic and collage on board, enameled radiator and assemblage, 84 x 106.7 in. Sold at Sotheby’s New York: May 2008 for $10,681,000 USD
"Smoker no. 9" (1973), oil and Liquitex gesso on linen, 83 x 89.5 in. Sold at Christie’s New York: May 2008 for $6,761,000 USD
“Smoker no. 9” (1973), oil and Liquitex gesso on linen, 83 x 89.5 in. Sold at Christie’s New York: May 2008 for $6,761,000 USD
"Great American Nude #44" (1963), acrylic and paper collage on board w/radiator, telephone, coat and door, 81.1 x 106.3 in. Sold at Sotheby’s New York: May 2013 for $4,085,000 USD
“Great American Nude #44” (1963), acrylic and paper collage on board w/radiator, telephone, coat and door, 81.1 x 106.3 in. Sold at Sotheby’s New York: May 2013 for $4,085,000 USD

Comparable Paintings Sold at Auction

"Study for Drop Out Nude" (1981), oil on canvas, 43 x 68 in. Sold at Sotheby’s London: February 2020 for $1,258,720 USD
“Study for Drop Out Nude” (1981), oil on canvas, 43 x 68 in. Sold at Sotheby’s London: February 2020 for $1,258,720 USD
  • Also features a view of Fort Carré d’Antibes, sold at auction 6 years ago
  • Same size and has beautiful water, light, and sky
  • A very similar painting is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston
"18 Year Old on the Beach" (1984), oil on canvas, 61 x 72 in. Sold at Sotheby’s New York: November 2018 for $3,015,000 USD
“18 Year Old on the Beach” (1984), oil on canvas, 61 x 72 in. Sold at Sotheby’s New York: November 2018 for $3,015,000 USD
  • Another view of Fort Carré d’Antibes
  • Sold at auction 6 years ago for over $13M
  • Has recently been on the private market for over $15M
"1962 Plus 35 Nude Sketch III" (1997), alkyd on canvas, 47 x 64 in. Sold at Christie’s London: February 2008 for $698,882 USD
“1962 Plus 35 Nude Sketch III” (1997), alkyd on canvas, 47 x 64 in. Sold at Christie’s London: February 2008 for $698,882 USD
  • About 20% smaller than La Maison du Jardinier
  • Sold 9 years ago for $9.2M, exceeding its high estimate of $5-7M
  • Now in the permanent collection of the Museum Barberini in Potsdam

Paintings in Museum Collections

"No. 10" (1959), oil on canvas, 108 x 40 in., The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri
“No. 10” (1959), oil on canvas, 108 x 40 in., The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri
"Untitled (Composition #104)" (1954-1960), oil on canvas, 108 x 40 in., The Brooklyn Museum, New York
“Untitled (Composition #104)” (1954-1960), oil on canvas, 108 x 40 in., The Brooklyn Museum, New York
"Abstract Painting" (1960-66), oil on canvas, 60 x 60 in., The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
“Abstract Painting” (1960-66), oil on canvas, 60 x 60 in., The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

Image Gallery

Additional Resources

National Gallery “Talks for All” on The Rokeby Venus by Velázquez
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts promotion of their exhibition Pop Art and Beyond: Tom Wesselmann
“Great American Nudes artist Tom Wesselmann was no sexist, say the women in his life” by Hermione Hoby in The Guardian

Authentication

The definitive authority on the authenticity of paintings by Van Gogh, the Van Gogh Museum inspected this painting in January 2020 and provided this letter of authenticity. During that inspection, X-ray revealed a second painting under the surface – a portrait of a man.

View full report

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