TOM WESSELMANN (1931-2004)
TOM WESSELMANN (1931-2004)
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Property from The Foundation Mireille and James Lévy
TOM WESSELMANN (1931-2004)

Bedroom Painting #52

TOM WESSELMANN (1931-2004)
Bedroom Painting #52
stamped twice with the artist's name, title and date 'WESSELMANN WESSELMANN BEDROOM PAINTING #52 1983' (on the stretcher)
oil on shaped canvas
66 x 41 ½ in. (167.7 x 105.4 cm.)
Executed in 1983.
Sidney Janis Gallery, New York
Marisa Del Re Gallery, New York
Private collection, Stockholm
Anon. sale; Christie's, New York, 8 May 1996, lot 457
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, New Work by Tom Wesselmann, November 1983.

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Lot Essay

One of the towering and essential masters of the Pop Art movement, Tom Wesselmann joyfully reimagines the classical nude in the mode of mid-20th Century American consumer culture. Bedroom Painting #52 is an alluring example from Wesselmann’s iconic Bedroom Paintings of nude studies set in various interior settings. Although he veered away from still life in the mid-1960s, Wesselmann returned to this motif in 1967 via the Bedroom Paintings. The complex reverberations between body parts and still life imagery opened up new possibilities to Wesselmann, as evidenced in the present work.
Wesselmann's "Drop Out" works, as he refers to this series, play a game with the viewer. The term "Drop Out" literally references a process of removing or cutting out, in this case, a portion of the figure's form. In Bedroom Painting #52, the woman's breast is partially cut out and defined instead by negative space. The subject is presented on a grand scale, in profile, against a bedroom window, flowing curtains and flower. The negative space creates a silhouette of the woman's form to give the illusion of a body, yet Wesselmann has only painted a nipple and a few strands of brown hair. "Although the shape of the canvas is pre-determined at the very beginning of the creative process, the pictures give the impression that the body contours have been cut out at some later point. The oversized body parts seem robbed of their connotative significance, their symbolic meaning, as if they had been created exclusively for the sake of the perspective-bound illusion of a 'see-through' effect" (T. Buchsteiner and O. Letze, eds., Tom Wesselmann, Ostfildern, 1996, p. 37). By fragmenting the female form in this manner, Wesselmann projects a spirit of exuberance and sense of fun to his otherwise erotic subject that reflects the buoyance and exhilaration of the era when it was created. The viewer plays Peek-A-Boo with the artist himself and his revelatory process of reinventing the nude through positive and negative space.

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