For over the last forty years, Tom Wesselmann's work has been dominated by the female form. In the 1960s, the artist rejuvenated the classical female nude by making her a contemporary icon, often showing her in up-to-date settings and painted in a flat silhouette style.
Around 1997, Tom Wesselmann began a series of paintings directly based on earlier works. For 32 Year Old on the Beach, the artist used a preliminary sketch for a painting dating from 1965, Drawing for Blonde on the Beach (see fig. 1). The artist projected the small pencil drawing onto a canvas, painting the thick black outlines first, over which he painted the lush colors of the sky, beach and woman. The artist allowed the black outlines to show through, evidence of the earlier work. The title of the present painting does not refer to the age of the woman portrayed, but rather the fact that the painting is based on a drawing that is 32 years old.
Reinvention and recycling have always been an important element in the artist's work and these themes are brilliantly evident in 32 Year Old On the Beach. The image of a reclining nude on the beach is one of Wesselmann's most enduring images and the present example is a compelling addition to the artist's pantheon of languorous nudes.