Wesselmann’s ‘Bedroom Tit Box’, a key performative work from the Janis exhibition, will be restaged in Paris for the first time. The work will be installed alongside seminal examples of Wesselmann’s post-collage works, making the exhibition at Almine Rech the most significant presentation of the artist’s work in Paris since his 1995 retrospective at the Fondation Cartier, and groundbreaking 1967 exhibition at Ileana Sonnabend Gallery.
About the ‘Bedroom Tit Box‘:
Wesselmann finally decided to make the live nude work he had long planned, in time for his show with Sidney Janis in 1970. But by 1969, nudity had suddenly become such a publicized theatrical and movie phenomenon that he lost his appetite for the project. As a gesture to the idea and consistent with the ‘Bedroom Paintings’ he was then working on, he decided to use only a part of the body. Studies began for a ‘Bedroom Tit Box’. The starting point to this piece was when he met a woman whose breasts were just the right size and shape he had in mind for the part, so he drew her and began studies for the box, which came to contain fully dimensioned painted objects, a wooden vase, ashtray, orange, lotion bottle, and box of tissues—all executed by his carpenter—as well as a wooden cigarette, two plastic roses, and a real light switch. The box containing this set had a plexi front and was placed into and behind a wall panel, with the real woman reclining unseen on a sponge-rubber covered scaffold behind the wall. Her breast dropped down into a hole in the roof of the box. The breast was as sedate as the wooden elements. It could have been cast in silicone or epoxy, since it is difficult to tell whether it is real or not. The fact that it is real does make a slight difference, however, and this slight difference became important. In the live full nude piece that had been planned, Wesselmann intended to have the woman relaxed and free to move but he wanted to avoid the sensational aspects inherent to the work, so the nude would be equally difficult to discern immediately as real.
In the ‘Bedroom Tit Box’, the breast is a straightforward, unprovoking presentation. When the work was shown in London, out of the artist’s control, the model did some clowning around, such as talking back to the viewers’ comments; and Wesselmann felt the work in that light descended into an amusement object, rather than what it is — a sober and very beautiful work. The ‘Bedroom Tit Box’, in its realness and internal scale (the scale rela-tionships between the elements), represents the basic idea of the ‘Bedroom Paintings’.