Artists & Designers

Tom Wesselmann (b. 1931–2004)

Born in suburban Ohio in 1931, Tom Wesselmann came to painting late, beginning to cartoon while enlisted in the Korean War. After returning from the army and with the support of the G.I. Bill, he attended the University of Cincinnati, earned a degree in psychology, and began studying art. Finding his voice in cartooning, he was able to sell his work to magazines and, at the urging of an art professor, moved to New York to study at the Cooper Union. There he experimented with collage, while training under the heavy influence of abstract expressionism. Wrestling with all of these influences, Wesselmann fought to find his artistic voice, eventually focusing on a return to a figurative framework. Experimenting with the boundaries of the painted plane, he flattened images and gave his work an immediacy and slick monumental feel no matter the scale. His work meshes familiar icons: pin up girls, army posters, and exotic vacation locales, imagery rooted in the American experience, with an iconography reflecting the charged era of pop sensibility coupled with deliberate honesty.

Adapted from

DMA unpublished material.

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