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Still Life, Nude, Landscape: The Late Prints by Tom Wesselmann on view at the Alan Cristea Gallery
Still Life with Lichtenstein and Two Oranges, 1993. Screenprint. Paper 108.0 x 149.9 cm. Image 83.8 x 128.3 cm. Edition of 90. Courtesy Alan Cristea Gallery.

LONDON.- Alan Cristea Gallery presents its first solo exhibition of work by Tom Wesselmann, whose iconic and often provocative work had a profound impact upon the development of American Pop Art. Alan Cristea Gallery is also pleased to announce that it is the exclusive world wide representative for prints from the artist’s estate.

Wesselman’s choices of subject matter – nude, still life, landscape – are universally recognisable classical themes from the canon of art history. Over the course of his career, he reinterpreted these using his own distinctive visual language, characterised by a reductive line, bold, flat primary colours and often the inclusion of symbols of American culture and patriotism. Works included in this exhibition, such as Mixed Bouquet with Leger and Monica Sitting with Mondrian, clearly demonstrate his respect for a European painterly tradition, but are suffused with wit and a sense of playfulness indicative of that new generation of American artists.

As with many of his Pop contemporaries, Wesselmann appropriated source material not just from fine art but from everyday sources such as advertising, magazine pin-ups and household products. His egalitarian approach applied also to his innovative use of materials, bringing industrial paint and metals into his practice.

The exhibition at the Alan Cristea Gallery focuses on prints made during the latter half of Wesselmann’s four-decade career, including some of his most significant etchings, aquatints and screenprints. Works from his influential Great American Nude series (begun in 1961) will be included in the exhibition. The series was born from Wesselmann’s desire to create an iconic genre in the same way that Steinbeck, Mailer and Hemingway sought to create the ‘Great American Novel’.

Tom Wesselmann (1931-2004) was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. He attended Hiram College in Ohio from 1949-51 before entering the University of Cincinnati. In 1953 his studies were interrupted after he was drafted into the army for two years, during which time he began to draw cartoons. After returning to his studies and receiving a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1956, Wesselmann decided to pursue a career in cartooning and enrolled in the Art Academy of Cincinnati, followed by studying in the Cooper Union in New York, where his focus shifted to fine art; he received his diploma in 1959. In 1959-60, Wesselmann became a founding member of the Judson Gallery along with Jim Dine and Marc Ratliff. In 1962 he was featured in the important New Realist exhibition alongside Dine, Oldenburg, Rosenthal and Segal at the Sidney Janis Gallery, and in 1977 his work was included in the American Art Since 1945 show at MoMA.

Selected solo exhibitions and retrospectives include: Virginia Museum of Fine Art (2013); Montreal Museum of Fine Art (2012); The Kreeger Museum, Washington (2010); Haunch of Venison, London (2010); Galerie Thomas, Munich (2009); Forum Gallery, Los Angeles (2008); Maxwell Davidson Gallery New York (2007, 2004, 1999); and The Columns Gallery, Seoul (2007). Wesselmann’s works are housed in numerous public collections, including: Museum Ludwig, Cologne; National Galerie, Berlin; Muse d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, Nice; IR Israel, Jerusalem; SP Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid; Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture, Washington DC; MOMA, New York; Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington D.C.; Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

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