The provocative paintings of pop-art godfather Tom Wesselmann come to London’s internationally acclaimed Alan Cristea Gallery this autumn in one the few major Wesselmann retrospectives the UK has ever seen. Spanning works from 1960s up to his death in 2004, Still Life, Nude, Landscape: The Late Prints describes how Wesselmann’s early career as a cartoonist – a mode of drawing he adopted while conscripted to the military aged 21 – informed the thick black lines and bold primary colours of his later portraits - to which pop-art owes a clear debt.
He’s perhaps best known for his giant 1960s Great American Nudes series, a bold project which saw the artist trying to establish a new, patriotic mode of expression in the visual arts to rival the success of the American novel. You’ll be hard pushed to miss them in this exhibition. Graceful pink nudes, many of which were modelled after his wife and contemporary Claire Selley, sprawl against installed radiators, coatstands, portraits of John F Kennedy and real, ringing telephones in a series of giant still-life collages that arrestingly blend the erotic and the everyday.
Keep an eye out for the later pieces Mixed Bouquet with Leger (1993) and the series of portraits depicting his nude muse Monica (Monica Sitting with Mondrian  and Monica Nude with Matisse ). These are great examples of his by now beautifully finessed cartoon-like style, and fantastically keen eye for the details of the female form. They’re provocatively sexual pieces (think pop-art at its raunchiest), but at the same time magnificent testimonies to the homage Wesselmann paid to older European painterly traditions and works: many of these appear in the backgrounds of his images, rendered in his own unique style.
Address and Map: 31 - 34 Cork St, London W1S 3NU
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|What||Tom Wesselmann - Still Life, Nude, Landscapes: The Late Prints, Alan Cristea Gallery|
|Where||Alan Cristea Gallery, 43 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5JG | MAP|
14 Nov 13 – 21 Dec 13
|Website||Click here for more information|