United States-born Tom Wesslemann was a Pop Art originator. Along with Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, he was part of a group of New York artists in the 1960s that shocked and shook up not only the institutions of the art establishment, but also the cultural of idea of what constitutes art. His subjects were mundane objects and the imagery of advertising, including still life, figures and landscapes. He used a graphic design-style way of painting on large canvases, making use of strong strokes and colours, creating something seemingly simple yet full of meaning.
Tom Wesslemann used different mediums to convey his message, including painting, collage, assemblage and sculpture. Perhaps his most famous piece is ‘The Great American Nude’ from 1960. This depicts a collection of different figures in the colours of the American flag – red, white and blue. Wesslemann began his artistic career drawing cartoons, which he first attempted when he was doing national service in 1954. While studying at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, he sold cartoon strips to 1000 Jokes and True magazines. It was on a painting trip in rural New Jersey in 1958 that he was struck with the notion to instead become a painter. Wessleman’s work carries a hefty price tag today and is highly collectable. He died in New York City in 2004, aged 73.