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Tom
Wesselmann

Reminiscent of 70s advertisements, leading American Pop Art artist Tom Wesselmann is renowned for his studies of nudes, smokers and Pop motifs. To buy or sell prints and editions from Wesselmann's portfolio browse available artwork from our network and enquire today. Contact us for complimentary market advice and free valuations on any print, with zero obligation to sell.

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Biography

Focusing on the nude, landscapes and still life, key Pop artist Tom Wesselmann is known for his bold palette and stylised figures. The artist shied away from contemporary movements such as Abstract Expressionism, instead favouring the everyday objects and commercial ties that Pop Art had to offer.

Great American Nude no.48 by Tom Wesselmann

Image © Sotheby's / Great American Nude no.48 © Tom Wesselmann 1963

1. £5.5M for Tom Wesselmann's Great American Nude No.48

Produced in 1963, when the Pop Art movement was still in formation, Great American Nude No. 48 (1963) was seen as both genre-defining and shocking; combining two-dimensional objects with stage set-like painting, the work centres around a naked female, laid out on a brightly-coloured bed that deconstructs traditional rules of perspective.

The property of German collectors Helga and Walther Lauffs since 1971, the painting has spent much of its life on loan to Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm Museum. In May 2008, however, it shattered its pre-sale estimate by almost US$3 million, selling for an enormous US$10,681,000 at Sotheby’s in New York – a record for Wesselmann.

Smoker no.5 by Tom Wesselmann

Image © Sotheby's / Smoker no.5 © Tom Wesselmann 1969

2. £3.9M for Tom Wesselmann's Smoker No.5 (Mouth No.19)

Smoker No 5 (Mouth No. 19) is a standout example of one of the most recognisable features of American Pop Art – artist Tom Wesselmann’s so-called Mouth paintings. Marking a departure from the artist’s nude paintings of the early 1960s, this 1969 piece formed part of the Smoker series, which started in 1965.

A depiction of the mouth of Wesselmann’s friend and model, Peggy Sarno, it is marked for its bold and graphic depiction of the cigarette: an icon of post-war American consumer culture. Unseen by the general public since its exhibition in New York in 1970, Smoker No. 5 (Mouth No. 19) fetched £3,871,250 at Sotheby’s London in March 2017.

Smoker no.9 by Tom Wesselmann

Image © Christie's / Smoker no. 9 © Tom Wesselman 1973

3. £3.5M for Tom Wesselmann's Smoker No. 9

Often grouped together with other examples of American Pop Artist Tom Wesselmann’s so-called Mouth paintings, Smoker No. 9 (1973) constitutes a beautifully smooth depiction of another icon of post-war American culture: the cigarette. In May 2008, the work sold for an astounding US$6,761,000 at Christie’s New York, performing just as well as closely related paintings like Smoker No. 5 (Mouth No. 19).

A foremost feature of the Pop Art imaginary, here the cigarette finds itself between a pair of Wesselmann’s signature ‘lips’, painted from drawings of friend and model, Peggy Sarno. A red-hot cigarette end clashes with the deep crimson of the model’s lips and fingernails, evoking the seductive techniques of American consumer advertising. Between these suggestive motifs, the thick fog of tobacco smoke serves to obscure and beguile.

Smoker No. 17

Image © Sotheby's / Smoker no.17 © Tom Wesselmann 1975