Tom Wesselmann’s series Sunset Nudes (2002-2004) recalls the highly provocative blondes of the earlier series. Monumental in size, the series is rooted in the magazine and billboard imagery of the sixties out of which Wesselmann’s practice emerged. Wesselmann was greatly influenced by Matisse and continued the legacy of both the reclining female and the drawn line in a unique visual language that is strong and immediately identifiable.
Tom Wesselmann (b. 1931, Cincinnati, Ohio – d. 2004, New York) became one of the leading American Pop artists of the 1960s, rejecting abstract expressionism in favor of the classical representations of the nude, still life, and landscape. He created collages and assemblages incorporating everyday objects and advertising ephemera in an effort to make images as powerful as the abstract expressionism he admired. He is perhaps best known for his great American Nude series with their sensuous forms and intense colors. In the 1970s, Wesselmann continued to explore the ideas and media which had preoccupied him during the 1960s. Most significantly, his large Standing Still Life series, composed of freestanding shaped canvases, showed small intimate objects on a grand scale. In 1980, he continued exploring shaped canvases (first exhibited in the 1960s) and began creating his first works in metal. He instigated the development of a lasercutting application, which would allow him to make a faithful translation of his drawings in cut-out metal. In the 1990s and early 2000s, the artist expanded these themes, creating abstract three-dimensional images.