One of the founders of the American Pop Art movement, Tom Wesselmann has created work in a variety of media, including painting, collage, and assemblage, in the Pop idiom for over thirty years. He is best known for his series of Great American Nudes, begun in 1961.
Long Delayed Nude (small version) exemplifies all of the classic features of the series. The central figure is surrounded by objects familiar enough to be iconic representations of a bedroom, as it might be portrayed in a popular magazine or television show: a vase of iris, rose and daffodils, velvet pillows, photograph in a frame, kleenex box, light switch, face cream and an animal pattern cloth in the lower right. The objects are layered in a composition whose space is so full, so constricted that there is no air between them, and the nude fairly bursts forth into the viewer's space. The model is faceless, unidentified, reinforcing the notion that she is also an icon of the voluptuous, youthful Miss America-type favored by the popular media. We can't know if she is the same woman presented so conservatively in the photo in the frame by the bed. It is this complex of relationships which distinguish Wesselmann's paintings:
"His style was always an interesting combination of mockery and credibility, especially in the sixties, when he was parodying stereotypes of American advertising, rendering the idyllic American home with its oppressive glut of new, brand-name products and vapid, if affable, human types, especially the faceless, nubile Miss America nudes. Yet the fine line between a teasing mockery and straightforward expression always was left ambiguous, leading observers to wonder whether they were dealing with deliberately debased, comic-strip clichés or the studied Matissean reductions of a knowing, new-age master. In Wesselmann's art, the distinction between ingenuousness and sophistication, between mockery and ironic truth-telling today remain equally intriguing and unsettling" (S. Hunter, Tom Wesselmann, New York 1994, p. 16).