Tom Wesselmann is a Pop Art icon spoken in the same breath as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. An exhibit showcasing his career-long work will open this weekend.
Beginning Saturday, The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts will showcase the work of a renowned figure in American Pop Art, Tom Wesselmann (1931 – 2004), the first comprehensive retrospective of his work seen in North America: Pop Art and Beyond: Tom Wesselmann.
“The point of the exhibition,” said John Ravenal, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the VMFA, “is to finally give the public a whole scope of Wesselmann’s career.”
Wesselmann, famous for his Great American Nudes, is often regarded among other Pop artists like Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and James Rosenquist for experimenting with new media and creating large scale, dynamic compositions.
“While Wesselmann was one of the very top Pop artists….[his] whole career hasn’t been known,” Ravenal said. “This is the opportunity, finally, to see the scope of [his] career.”
The representation of Wesselmann’s artistic career follows its chronological progression, beginning with his abstract collages, then the Great American Nudes, the still lifes in his Pop period, cut-steel drawings, and finally the Sunset Nudes of his later work. Some of the pieces are on display to the public for the first time.
At a media preview for the event earlier this week, Wesselmann’s widow, Claire, announced that she would gift the VMFA a drawing done by her late husband, Barn Behind Beach Woods. Wesselmann drew it while living in upstate New York. The drawing should arrive at the VMFA in the near future.
Pop Art and Beyond: Tom Wesselmann runs April 6th – July 28th. Tickets are $15 and $12 for seniors, students with ID, individuals in adult groups of 10 or more, and youth ages 7 – 17.