Must See Art: Tom Wesselmann at Gagosian Beverly Hills
‘Still Life #29,’ 1963, Oil and printed paper collaged on canvas, 9′ x 12′, ©Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
This Thursday, Gagosian Beverly Hills will be launching a solo exhibition of rare works by Pop Art notable Tom Wesselmann. Wesselmann: 1963-1983 will feature seven pieces created by the artist, none of which have ever been shown on the West Coast. On view until August, the exhibition will showcase the commercial billboards Wesselmann began painting in 1962.
‘Still Life #61,’ 1976, Oil on shaped canvas in 4 parts, 8’8.5″ x 32’7″ x 6’7″, ©Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Born in Cincinnati in 1931, Wesselmann was an influential figure in the Pop Art world, with his massive paintings that recontextualized images from popular culture, like the Volkswagen Beetle seen in ‘Still Life #29.’
“I used what was around me, so my culture was what I used,” he once said about his work.
Part of ‘The Standing Still Lifes’ series, the seven works in Wesselmann: 1963-1983 were a highlight in the artist’s long career. Comprised of multiple canvases shaped like the objects they depict and mounted on both the wall and the ground, the pieces are three-dimensional scenescapes that pull you into their world. Known primarily for his work that showcases the female figure, these paintings incorporate everyday objects in exaggerated sizes, exploring sexuality and surrealism in an emotional and experimental way.
‘Still Life with Blue Jar and Smoking Cigarette,’ 1981, Oil on shaped canvas in 4 parts, 9′ x 18’5″ x 5’6″, ©Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
“Wesselmann is an artist well known for his forthright and original standpoint on sexuality,” explains Jason Ysenburg, Director at Gagosian, “but that is only a part of his story. In the ‘Still Lifes,’ ‘Standing Still Lifes’ and ‘Bedroom Paintings,’ we are offered a glimpse into an enchanted world where scale, content and the juxtaposition of materials and images is surprising and innovative,” he continues. “What transpires are a group of paintings where sexuality is often implied rather than overtly expressed.”
Since his death in 2004, Wesselmann’s work has become only more sought after, and has been included in multiple exhibitions at The Whitney and MoMA. This latest exhibition follows another recent showcase, Tom Wesselmann: Standing Still Lifes at Gagosian in New York.
Wesselmann: 1963-1983 is on view from July 12 to August 24 at Gagosian Beverly Hills.
Photos: ‘Still Life #29’ by Jeffrey Sturges; ‘Still Life #61’ & ‘Still Life with Blue Jar and Smoking Cigarette’ by Rob McKeever; all courtesy the Estate of Tom Wesselmann and Gagosian