Tom Wesselmann - 1990s


His metal works continued to go through a constant metamorphosis: My Black Belt, 1990, a seventies subject, acquired a new vivacity that forcefully defined space in the new medium. The Drawing Society produced a video directed by Paul Cummings in which Wesselmann makes a portrait of a model and a work in aluminum.

“Since 1993 I’ve basically been an abstract painter. This is what happened: in 1984 I started making steel and aluminum cut-out figures... One day I got muddled up with the remnants and I was struck by the infinite variety of abstract possibilities. That was when I understood I was going back to what I had desperately been aiming for in 1959, and I started making abstract three-dimensional images in cut metal. I was happy and free to go back to what I wanted: but this time not on De Kooning’s terms but on mine". In this new abstract format Wesselmann preferred a random approach, and made compositions in which the metal cut-outs resembled gestural brushstrokes. His nudes on canvas of this period rework 1960s images. They, “ an unexpected but highly satisfying nostalgic return to a youthful episode in the very midst of one of the most radical changes of style in Wesselmann’s career. Self-contained and complete in themselves, they seem more likely to stand alone rather than to lead to further reinterpretations of Sixties motifs. In other words they should not be taken as a sign that Wesselmann is embarking on an extended re-engagement with his classic Pop phase...”. In 1999 he made his final Smoker work, Smoker #1 (3-D), as a relief in aluminum.

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