Tom Wesselmann At Gagosian Gallery Beverly hills

by Tori Adams

When people think about the iconic pop art movement of the late ‘50s, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein often come to mind. Tom Wesselmann, isn’t instantaneously remembered-but maybe that’s the way he would want it to be. Wesselmann, known for utilizing everyday objects in a layered and loaded manner, often deplored his association with the movement. 

Regardless of whether you see his work as a subset of the pop art movement or not, it is undisputed that it influenced many modern artists to come. Wesselmann, who was an active part of the art community from 1959 up until his death in 2004, contributed a myriad of stimulating pieces ranging from oil and collage on canvas to full-fleshed sculptures. 

 TOM WESSELMANN  Still Life with Blue Jar and Smoking Cigarette , 1981 Oil on shaped canvas, in 4 parts Overall: 9 feet x 18 feet 5 inches x 5 feet 6 inches 274.3 x 561.3 x 167.6 cm   Art © Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY Photo: Rob McKeever Courtesy of The Tom Wesselmann Estate and Gagosian  

TOM WESSELMANN
Still Life with Blue Jar and Smoking Cigarette, 1981
Oil on shaped canvas, in 4 parts
Overall: 9 feet x 18 feet 5 inches x 5 feet 6 inches
274.3 x 561.3 x 167.6 cm

Art © Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Photo: Rob McKeever
Courtesy of The Tom Wesselmann Estate and Gagosian
 

Seven of his particularly noteworthy works will now be showcased in a solo exhibition at the Gagosian Beverley Hills. The works, some of which were recently shown at Gagosian’s New York space, will get their west coast debut with Wesselmann: 1963-1983. The exhibition features an assemblage of works from his Still Life, Standing Still Life and Bedroom Painting collection. I As Jason Ysenburg, Director of the Gagosian points out, “We are offered a glimpse into an enchanted world where scale, content and the juxtaposition of materials and images is surprising and innovative. What transpires are a group of paintings where sexuality is often implied rather than overtly expressed." 

 TOM WESSELMANN  Still Life #61 , 1976 Oil on shaped canvas, in 4 parts Overall: 8 feet 8 1/2 inches x 32 feet 7 inches x 6 feet 7 inches 265.4 x 993.1 x 200.7 cm    Art © Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY Photo: Rob McKeever Courtesy of The Tom Wesselmann Estate and Gagosian  

TOM WESSELMANN
Still Life #61, 1976
Oil on shaped canvas, in 4 parts
Overall: 8 feet 8 1/2 inches x 32 feet 7 inches x 6 feet 7 inches
265.4 x 993.1 x 200.7 cm 

Art © Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Photo: Rob McKeever
Courtesy of The Tom Wesselmann Estate and Gagosian
 

Wesselmann manages to do something that no other pop artist did: bring a human aura to a collection of objects. Still Life 61, a large scale painting of a pair of keys, a ring, a cigarette and a toothbrush. Although the objects lay inanimately, they tell a story. One that suggests intimacy and affection.

The body of work spans twenty decades: from 1963 to 1983. As a result, they help viewers link Wesselmann’s initial ideas to his later creations. The exhibition, which opens tonight, will be paired with an illustrated catalogue featuring the perspectives of Ara H. Merjian, Michael Craig-Marin, Lauren Mahony and Jeffrey Sturges, the director of Exhibitions for the Wesselmann estate. Take a trip back to the ‘60s ‘70s and ‘80s and see where the magic all began. 


Written By: Tori Adams