Wesselmann

Great American Nude # 90

1968

Important work

ARTIST:

Wesselmann, Tom


Technique:

Off Deluxe edition (possibly only) 100 made (after the gouache and liquitex painting, dated 1966)


Paper:

Heavy semi-gloss cream wove 63 x 73 cm sheet


Condition:

Some slight yellowing to the left hand side of the work as seen in the illustration but barely visible under glass. The work has been custom framed in archival acid free materials.


Realisation / Publication:

This silkscreen was made in an unknown edition in 1968 after the work that Wesselmann had made in his series on the Nude, with this, number 90 dating from 1966. The same work was exhibited at the famed Galerie Thomas in Munich, Germany in the same year.


Reference / Literature:

The work was reproduced on an invitation to a Wesselmann retrospective (see illustration 3). There are no known records of this offset existing in the Wesselmann archive. See also https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/22/t-magazine/art/tom-wesselmann-pop-artist-profile.html?_r=0


Provenance:

Private collector, Madrid Spain, 2015 sold on.


Asking:

Contact for price


It is one of many nudes that Wesselmann made in the lead up to the publication of his iconic work “The Great American Nude” that Galerie Thomas had manufactured into a series of “Look” posters to advertise their gallery. According to archivists at the Wesselmann Estate, the artist was initially very upset by this appropriation by the gallery, however, “reconciled”.[1] Typically pop in its representation of the human form, cartoon like and somewhat manufactured and gaudy in its sexist overtones, the nude enjoys occupying the space with her vapid posturing and saturation of pure colours. Nevertheless, this uncomfortable coalescence gives this work its presence and an aura missing in many of Weseleman’s other Nudes. This offset features two iconographic details that appear in other nudes by the same artist: roses and oranges.  While Wesselmann himself may not have intended to convey a Christian message, these attributes are present and can be interpreted as such. In the Marian imagery that became a cult in the early Renaissance, the orange was symbolic of the Virgin’s purity and sanctity while the rose, is a stark reminder to the onlooker that the Virgin was still, very much human (despite being the mother of Christ)-the rose, symbolic of her vagina. In Wesselmann’s work, the close positioning of these two features deliberately throw the onlooker’s understanding of human, heterosexual desire. With her mouth agape, and her legs gyrating away from the foreground to assume a sexual position presumably for intercourse, the orange, seen above her genital area is about to topple as she turns toward the roses-an understanding that purity for this subject is devoid of religious connotations and symptomatic of sexual power in popular (read secular) culture; power that is derived solely from desire. One of these nudes, sold in 2008 for in excess of 1400 Pounds Sterling making the asking price of 3500 more than reasonable.

A significantly smaller precursory sketch, Great American Nude #90 (graphite, liquitex) to the Offset lithograph offered here (Great American Nude #90) was auctioned at Sotheby’s New York, March 2016. Identical in details, gesture of the blond, and “painted” study served to give the flatness of the image a sense of three dimensionality.  This can be ascertained in the roses that are rendered in a painterly manner, and with the perspective in the posturing of the figure and the placement of the orange, roses and in humanity given to the flesh tonality of the female subject.

[1] Email to Salon dated July 2, 2016. Galerie Thomas first exhibited this Nude as the small gouache and liquitext painting in 1966. It was the Galerie Thomas, not Wesselman, who created Nude as a screenprint in an edition of 100 for the Deluxe edition and in an unknown number for the conventional poster version.