Wesselmann’s place among Pop Art superstars like Warhol, Johns and Lichtenstein is most certainly framed by his own relationship to the art movement. It’s well-known that Tom Wesselmann did not like being labeled a Pop Artist. Yet, it’s hard to imagine that his early 1960’s “Still Life” realistic works featuring consumer goods and assorted American icons would be considered anything but Pop Art. Nonetheless, Wesselmann did manage to set himself apart, perhaps most notably by the manner in which he built his career.
While Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein continuously gravitated toward powerful commercial icons, by the mid to late 60’s, Wesselmann was moving away from commercial subjects, toward the nudes and seascapes that inspired him most. Certainly, if Wesselmann did indeed move through the Pop Art movement, he nonetheless adopted elements of the style – the broad lines and bold color palette most noticeably. Though Wesselmann stated that his work was not intended as social commentary, the fact that he was a New York artist pushing boundaries certainly contributed to his being labeled a Pop Artist.
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