Tom Wesselmann - 21st Century

21st Century

In the last ten years Wesselmann's health was worsened by heart disease, but his studio work remained constant.

The abstract works display firmer lines and a chromatic range that favored primary colors. Wesselmann acknowledged the influence of Mondrian by choosing titles that recall the earlier painter's works: New York City Beauty (2001). In these years the influence of Matisse diminished the border between Wesselmann's figurative and abstract styles. In 1960 Wesselmann had been able to view the works of the French master in person at the MoMA's Gouaches Découpées (Gouache Cut-outs) exhibition, and forty years later paid homage in his Sunset Nudes series. In Sunset Nude with Matisse, 2002, he inserted Matisse's painting La Blouse Roumaine (1939–1940). Wesselmann also derived works from Matisse's cut-outs: Blue Nude (2000), initiated a series of blue nude reliefs sculpted in shaped aluminum.

Following surgery for his heart condition, Tom Wesselmann died on December 17, 2004. His last major paintings of the series Sunset Nudes (2003/2004) were shown after his death at the Robert Miller Gallery in New York in April 2006.

The years following Wesselmann’s death were marked by a renewed interest in his work. Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma (MACRO) exhibited a retrospective in 2005, accompanied by a comprehensive catalogue. The following year L&M Arts in New York held a major exhibition of works from the 1960s. Two galleries; Maxwell Davidson and Yvon Lambert, jointly showed the Drop-Out series in New York in 2007. This coincided with the release of a new monograph on the artist, written by John Wilmerding and published by Rizzoli; Tom Wesselmann, His Voice and Vision. Another show, in 2010 by Maxwell Davidson, Tom Wesselmann: Plastic Works, was the first ever survey of Wesselmann’s work in formed plastic. A lifetime retrospective of drawings, Tom Wesselmann Draws, was shown at Haunch of Venison Gallery, New York, and then traveled to The Museum of Fine Art, Fort Lauderdale, FL, at Nova Southeastern University, and The Kreeger Museum in Washington, DC. A lifetime retrospective, to travel in North America, will open at The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in May, 2012.

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