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Beyond Pop Art: Denver Art Museum hosts American Pop artist Tom Wesselmann retrospective
Tom Wesselmann (American, b.1931, d.2004), Still Life #60, 1973. Oil on canvas; 122 1/4 x 333 x 86 1/2 in. Lent by Claire Wesselmann. © Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY, Photo: Jeffrey Sturges.

DENVER, CO.- The Denver Art Museum will host the exhibition Beyond Pop Art: A Tom Wesselmann Retrospective, July 13–September 14, 2014. American painter Tom Wesselmann (1931– 2004) is widely regarded as one of the leading figures of American Pop Art, with a career spanning more than four decades. Organized chronologically, the exhibition follows the development of Wesselmann’s work, series by series, from the earliest abstract collages to his well-known series, The Great American Nude, and still lifes of his Pop period, to the cut-steel drawings and Sunset Nudes of his late work.

“Beyond Pop Art continues the DAM’s tradition of bringing exhibitions to Denver that provide an inside look into an artist’s process,” said Christoph Heinrich, Frederick and Jan Mayer Director of the Denver Art Museum. “The exhibition allows visitors to follow Wesselmann’s personal and creative journey through the Pop Art movement and beyond.”

The exhibition features approximately 100 works, including the larger-than-life Still Life #60, which is more than 25 feet long, and the abstract Screen Star, with bright color and jagged edges combining to create a three-dimensional, sculptural painting. Visitors will have the opportunity to explore Wesselmann’s process through preliminary drawings, maquettes and archival documents, from billboards to photographs and letters.

Wesselmann continued to reinvent himself long after the Pop Art movement peaked. He found his own voice by revisiting the traditions of masters like Matisse and Cezanne and by redefining the traditional genres of the nude, still life and landscape.

Beyond Pop Art also explores Wesselmann’s reluctance to be affiliated with the Pop Art movement. In his biography written under the pen name Slim Stealingworth, Wesselmann wrote that he “dislikes the term ‘Pop Art’ primarily because it causes many art historians, curators and critics to focus excessively on subject matter and assumed sociological commentary. Wesselmann’s motivation, what drives his art, is no different than any other fine artist in history—he wants to give form to his own personal discoveries of what is beautiful and exciting.”

Wesselmann’s creativity extended beyond visual art; he also was known for his connection to country music. The artist wrote more than 400 songs, a number of which were recorded. One of his compositions, “I Love Doing Texas With You,” sung by Kevin Trainor, was included on the soundtrack for the Academy Award-winning film Brokeback Mountain. Visitors will have the opportunity to hear Trainor perform “I Love Doing Texas With You” and other songs he recorded with Wesselmann on the evening of July 25 as a part of Untitled # 69 (Uncharted).

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