Tom Wesselmann

Tom Wesselmann was born in Cincinnati / Ohio on 23 February 1931. Between 1945 and 1951 he studied at the Hiram College in Ohio before studying psychology at Cincinnati university. One year later he was called up for military service due to the Korea war. Being discontented with his situation he began to draw cartoons at that time. In 1954 he resumed his studies and apart from this he attended the art academy.

He moved to New York and attends Cooper Union School for Arts and Architecture in 1956. He earned his living by working as a cartoonist for several journals and magazines as well as by teaching at a highschool in Brooklyn. At the end of the fifties a series of collages in small format were created being regarded as precursors of the later series ‘Great American Nudes’ and ‘Still life’ in big format. Out of these collages he developed first nude depictions in 1960. His first single exhibition took place at the Tanager Gallery in New York in 1961. One year later he participated in the group exhibition ‘New Realists’ at the Sidney Janis Gallery, his international career with numerous exhibitions started off. The same year his first assemblages with the title ‘Still Life’ came into existence.

In 1963 Wesselmann married his girl-friend and fellow student Claire Selley, who also was his most important model. He began a series of ‘Bathtub Collages’. In 1966 the first of many one-man shows took place at the Janis Gallery. In 1964 Tom Wesselmann began with further series, e.g. ‘Bedroom Paintings’, ‘Seascapes’ and ‘Smokers’, which he continued until the early 1980s. In 1980 he published a treatise about his artistic development under the pseudonym Slim Stealingworth. In 1983 first ‘Metal Works’ were produced, which were based on the artist’s drawings and sketches and which are still in the centre of the artist’s interest. In 1994 a comprehensive retrospective took place at the Kunsthalle in Tübingen. Wesselmann died in New York on 17 December 2004. His choice of trivial motifs, thier monumentalisation, reduction to stereotypes, sexual embelematic as well as the use of bright colours made Wesselmann a co-founder of the American Pop-Art during the 1960s.

Taken from the Tom Wesselmann site


Jim Rosenquist

Born in Grand Forks, North Dakota, 1933, He now lives and works in Aripeka, Florida, and New York City Jim Rosenquist had an itinerant childhood. An only child, he moved with his family frequently throughout the Midwest. His parents shared with him their interest in airplanes and things mechanical. In junior high school Rosenquist took art classes, and he won a scholarship to attend Saturday classes at the Minneapolis School of Art. After high school he enrolled in the University of Minnesota’s art program, studying with Cameron Booth. During the summer he worked for a contractor in Iowa, Wisconsin, and North Dakota, painting signs and bulk storage tanks.

“President Elect” (1960-61)

In 1954 Rosenquist painted his first billboard for General Outdoor Advertising in Minneapolis. A year later, on scholarship to the Art Students League in New York, Rosenquist studied with Edwin Dickinson, Will Barnet, Morris Kantor, George Grosz, and Vaclav Vytacil. In 1957 Rosenquist joined the sign painters union and in 1958 went to work for Art Kraft Strauss Company painting billboards. He also worked on window displays for Bonwit Teller and Tiffany & Company.

He married the textile designer Mary Lou Adams. During the election he produced the picture President Elect in which John F. Kennedy’s face is combined in a kind of collage with sex and automobile imagery. His first one-man exhibition in the Green Gallery, in 1962, was sold out. In 1963 he worked on several sculptures, had a number of exhibitions at the Galerie Ileana Sonnabend, showed his work at the Dwan Gallery, Los Angeles, and taught at Yale University. In 1965 he began to work with lithographs.

In the same year he made the 26 meter-wide picture F-111, which was shown at the Jewish Museum, New York, at Moderna Museet, Stockholm, and in other European cities. It is one of his most important works. The spatial organization of the composition into layers suggests the interrelationship of contemporary historical symbols and signs of affluence and military hardware, a vision of American culture expressing the proximity of euphoria and catastrophe. In 1967 he moved to East Hampton.

Untitled 2000

In 1968 he was given his first retrospective by the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. In 1969 he turned his attention to experimenting with film techniques. In 1970 he went to Cologne for the opening of his exhibition at the Galerie Rolf Ricke. During the public protest against the Vietnam War he was briefly detained in Washington. During the same year he had comprehensive retrospectives at the Wallraf-Richards Museum, Cologne, and the Whitney Museum, New York.

In 1974 and 1975, he lobbied the U.S. Senate on the legal rights of artists. He became separated from his wife and designed his own house with an open-air studio at Indian Bay, Aripeka, Florida. In 1978 F-111 was exhibited in the International Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. In his work of the late seventies and eighties, e.g. 4 “New Clear Women,” images of women are confronted with machine aesthetics, usually in large oblong compositions. The themes of these dynamic compositions also include fire, progress and war machinery which he shows in rotating pictorial narratives. Between 1985 and 1987 Rosenquist’s entire development as an artist was shown in a comprehensive retrospective at six American museums.

The Stars and Stripes at the Speed of Light

By 1960 Rosenquist had set aside enough of his commercial earnings to allow him to spend a year painting in his studio. He moved to Coentles Slip, where he shared a loft with Charles Hinman.  Rosenquist had tentatively explored the use of commercial methods and materials in his studio work of the late 1950s, but after his move to the Slip, he left behind both the abstract expressionist and figurative modes he had employed in his early work.  He developed the montage like arrangement of deliberately fragmented images from popular culture inconsistently scaled and enigmatically juxtaposed; that characterized the monumental paintings of his mature style.

Rosenquist had his first one-man exhibition at the Green Gallery in New York in 1962, and every painting was sold. In 1963 he completed a mural for the New York World’s Fair, and Art in, America selected him as “Young Talent Painter” of the year. Two years later the artist finished painting the monumental, highly publicized F- I I 1, which toured Europe during the 1960s and has been considered an important expression of the anti Vietnam War movement. During the 1970s he became active in issues of artists’ rights legislation. In 1976 Rosenquist built his house and studio in Aripeka, Florida.

Since the early 1960s Rosenquist has worked extensively at numerous printmaking workshops in addition to Graphic studio, including Aeropress, Gemini G.E.L., Petersburg Press, Styria Studios, Tyler Graphics, Ltd., and Universal Limited Art Editions. Among Rosenquist’s honors is the World Print Award, which he received in 1983 from the World Print Council at the San Francisco Museum of Modem Art.


In 2003 the Solomon R. Guggenbeim Museum in New York had a retrospective of Rosenquist works starting in 1950. In 2004 the exhibition goes to Spain’s Guggeheim Bilbao.

As art dealer Richard Feigen says, “James Rosenquist may be the world’s most important living artist.”

Andy Warhol

Out of the tumultuous atmosphere of the 1960s came an artist who became the icon of the free spirit. Andy Warhol introduced the world, and particularly an artistically fertile America, to the idea of life as an art. Gone were the days of portraiture and classical sculpture — this was the era of the movie star, the celebrity, and consumerism. Warhol looked at the life surrounding him and portrayed it on his canvases and in his films, stating that “if you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me, and there I am. There’s nothing behind it.” Yet, to critics, the most intriguing aspect of Warhol was his private life, an indefinable mixture of artistic creativity, mystery, and sexual scandal. It is this very inexpressibility that comes through in the artist’s work, giving Warhol an aura of cool acceptability and ambiguity.

Born Andrew Warhola on August 6, 1928, Warhol was one of three boys in a Czechoslovakian immigrant working-class family. Growing up during the Great Depression in Forest City, Pennsylvania, Warhol faced an unstable household, further complicated by the death of his father in 1942. Three years later, Warhol dropped out of high school and enrolled at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, where he received his B.A. in pictorial design in 1949.

After graduation, Warhol moved to New York, living in a co-ed basement apartment. He was a strange one to the others, being very quiet, young, and having an unusually white pallor. Angry with Warhol for not speaking to her, one of the female occupants of the apartment once threw an egg at him, which hit him in the head. The quiet young artist spent most of his time drawing and taking his work around to agencies in a brown paper bag, as he did not have enough funds for a portfolio.

Campbell’s Soup

Intrigued by the odd character who walked into her office holding a brown paper bag, Glamour art director Tina Fredericks commissioned Warhol to design shoes, inadvertently launching him into the world of commercial arts. Gaining the attention of exclusive shoe store I. Miller, Warhol was soon offered an appointment in their art department.

In 1949, Warhol changed the spelling of his name because of a credit that mistakenly read “Drawings by Warhol” for the article “Success is a Job in New York”. Around this time, his eyes began to bother him, and Tina Fredericks urged him to go to an oculist. Having been told he had “lazy eyes,” Warhol wore opaque glasses that had a tiny pinhole for him to see through — these became his signature accessory, even though they were hideous. Warhol dyed his hair a distinct silver, showing a flair for the dramatic that set him apart from other artists.

With the name change and his position in the commercial field, the intrepid artist soon created a niche for himself, becoming known for his exploration of the shoe as a reflection of the person. Warhol captured the essence of various people in his shoes, creating the likeness of celebrities and friends on paper. It did not matter if the shoe features were in the right places — I. Miller loved his drawings. He received the Art Directors’ Club Medal for his shoe designs in 1957.

Earlier, in 1952, the artist had his first solo exhibition, showing pictures drawn for Truman Capote’s short stories; unfortunately, the exhibit did not make much of an impact in the art world. By this time however, Warhol had an agent, Fritzie Miller, who got him contracts with big magazines such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. He worked with Eugene Moore to create window displays for Bonwit’s, a department store. The introspective artist, who wore only old clothes, radiated a charm and mystery in both his manner and work that began to be noticed by people in the business.

Velvet Underground Album Cover

During this period of development in his life, Warhol came into contact with other cultures, both local and abroad, that were to have an influence on his later artwork. In the mid-1950s, he was part of a theatre crowd that focused primarily on the plays of Franz Kafka and Bertolt Brecht; Warhol especially admired Brecht’s idea of realism and would later apply the philosophy to his work. Influences from abroad came through his six-week tour of Europe and Asia, where he began his own collection of modern art, buying works from artists such as Joan Miró and Larry Rivers.

In the 1960s, Andy Warhol combined all of these early influences and experiences into a style that was distinctly his own and yet allowed others to be involved in the creative process. This came to be known in art history as American Pop art, a movement against the “original” as the bastion of the elite. Warhol’s outlook on artwork focused not on the end result, the “original work of art,” but on the creative processes that produced the work of art. Reflecting this philosophy was the artist’s use of the silkscreen, a process that allowed multiple identical images to be produced by anyone: Warhol liked to have his friends create prints using his silkscreens.

Self-portrait with camouflage

Most of Warhol’s creative work at this time took place in his studio, which he called “the Factory”. This work, done between 1962 and 1964, ranged from portraits of friends and celebrities to car crashes to electric chairs to consumer products. Perhaps the most famous of his Factory work — consumer product images of Campbell’s Soup, Brillo boxes, green stamps, and Coca-Cola — distinctly point to Warhol’s fascination with America’s growing identification with brand-name labels.

In 1962 Warhol had his first show in the Stable Gallery. It was a huge success, widely reported in the press and fully sold out. His paintings, manufactured in the Factory, were bought almost as soon as they were shown. People stood in lines at exhibit openings to look at his work. A trendsetter, Warhol and his work were definitely a hot commodity. But in 1965, Warhol declared Pop art “dead” and decided to retire from painting; his last gallery exhibition at Leo Castelli in 1966 consisted of Cow Wallpaper and Silver Clouds.

From 1966 onward, Andy Warhol concentrated on making films, initially intent on studying the lives of the people surrounding him. The first films for which he gained recognition were shot between 1963 and 1964, a total of eight hours, with the titles of Sleep, Kiss, Haircut, Eat, Blow Job, and Empire. Awarded the Independent Film Award by Film Culture, this series of films translated Warhol’s philosophy on painting to the screen: the focus was not on the finished product (indeed, most of these films could never be mass-marketed), but on the creative processes that went into the work. Just as Warhol emphasized the fact that others could use his silkscreens and create paintings, so his films underscore the truth that anybody could take subjects and film them. Not only could the subjects be ordinary people, but Warhol also made this often-quoted prediction: “In the future everybody will be world-famous for fifteen minutes.” Those made famous in Warhol’s pictures included Baby Jane Holzer, Edie Sedgwick, Nico, Ingrid Superstar, Ultra Violet, and Viva.

Turquoise Maralyn

Warhol began working with a rock band called The Velvet Underground in 1965, introducing them to the chanteuse Nico; to the music of the band he orchestrated an interactive show consisting of images and lights and called it The Exploding Plastic Inevitable. The mixed media showcase created an international sensation when it opened at the DOM nightclub in New York City. It was an onslaught on the senses, and it described in music and art the feeling of young America.

Much has been speculated about Andy Warhol’s sex life. He featured both men and women in his artistic endeavors, and his entourage was a mingling of the two sexes. Most people tend to think Warhol was gay, and he did have boyfriends. However, it is a mystery as to whether or not he actually was intimate with these men; Warhol’s attitude was more asexual than homosexual.

On June 3, 1968, Valerie Solanas, the mentally unstable founding member of SCUM (Society for Cutting Up Men), shot Andy Warhol two times in the stomach; she had mistaken him for a kind of god, telling police that “he had too much control over my life.” Warhol spent two months in the hospital recovering from the wounds. This shooting was the inspiration for the 1996 film entitled I Shot Andy Warhol.

In 1968, Warhol tackled the next level in the artistic medium and wrote a novel called a. a demonstrated the philosophy Warhol had expressed previously on canvas and reel — it did not take an accomplished author to write a paper. In order to prove his idea, Warhol recorded twenty-four hours of conversation that occurred within the Factory and entitled it a. In 1969, he founded the magazine inter/View, and in 1975 he published The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again. Warhol died in February of 1987 from gall bladder surgery complications.

Wang Guangyi

In the mid-1980s, Wang Guangyi espoused a humanist vision of art for post-Mao China. His series of paintings entitled “Frozen North Pole” sought to evoke, in the artist’s words, “a kind of beauty of sublime reason which contains constant, harmonious feelings of humanity.” Abstract human figures placed in orderly, grid-like arrangements face uniformly forward, as if moving toward an auspicious future. The message is utopian and optimistic: these humans are evolved creatures of rationality and feeling who are ready for an ideal world.

Great Castigation Series: Coca-Cola, 1993

Three years later Wang’s art and ethos had undergone a complete reversal — his new aim was “to liquidate the enthusiasm of humanism.” Shifting to a cut-and-paste method and deploying Warhol-inspired references to mass culture, Wang began to produce Political Pop art rife with irony. He saw irony as a necessary tactic in the tense atmosphere that preceded the 1989 Tiananmen massacre. It was a reaction against the tragically sincere use of symbols (such as the Statue of Liberty) seen elsewhere in the showdown between Maoism and democracy.

Chanel, 2005,

Wang’s new art appropriated communist propagandist images from China and mixed them with corporate advertisements from the West. They are literal depictions of the conflicted values descending over China. Poster-style Red Guard soldiers stand under the Coca-Cola logo; the kitsch of communism rubs elbows with the kitsch of capitalism; the art of assemblage mirrors the patchwork of contradictory ideologies that China endures. Both “Mao Zedong Age” (1991) and “Workers, Peasants, Soldiers, and Coca Cola” (1992) bathe the age of Mao in the aura of Hollywood, rendering the difference between the two indiscernible.

Great Criticism — Pop Art/Wang Guangyi — Sotheby’s

Wang suggests an affinity between the means employed by capitalism and those employed by socialism in the efforts to promulgate certain social visions. Both rely on popularized images and catch-words to create community — be it a community of citizens or consumers. In fact, the difference between consumer and citizen dissolves in the post-history, contemporary world.

Robert Rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg studied at the Kansas City Art Institute and the Académie Julian in Paris, France, before enrolling in 1948 at the legendary Black Mountain College in North Carolina.

Robert Rauschenberg ,Untitled, ca. 1954

As a young artist Rauschenberg married the painter Susan Weil. The two met while attending the Academie Julian in Paris, and in 1948 both decided to attend Black Mountain College in North Carolina to study under Josef Albers. Robert Rauschenberg and Susan Weil were married in the summer of 1950. Their son, Christopher was born on July 16, 1951. The two separated in June 1952. At Black Mountain his painting instructor was the renowned Bauhaus figure Josef Albers, whose rigid discipline and sense of method inspired Rauschenberg, as he once said, to do “exactly the reverse” of what Albers taught him.

1986 BMW 635 CSi Art Car by Robert Rauschenberg

Composer John Cage, whose music of chance occurrences and found sounds perfectly suited Rauschenberg’s personality, was also a member of the Black Mountain faculty. The “white paintings” produced by Rauschenberg at Black Mountain in 1951, while they contain no images at all, are said to be so exceptionally blank and reflective that their surfaces respond and change in sympathy with the ambient conditions in which they are shown, “so you could almost tell how many people are in the room,” as Rauschenberg once commented. The White Paintings are said to have directly influenced Cage in the composition of his completely “silent” piece titled 4’33” the following year.

In 1952 Rauschenberg began his series of “Black Paintings” and “Red Paintings,” in which large, expressionistically brushed areas of color were combined with collage and found objects attached to the canvas. These so-called “Combine Paintings” ultimately came to include such heretofore un-painterly objects as a stuffed goat and the artist’s own bed quilt, breaking down traditional boundaries between painting and sculpture, reportedly prompting one Abstract Expressionist painter to remark, “If this is Modern Art, then I quit!” Rauschenberg’s Combines provided inspiration for a generation of artists seeking alternatives to traditional artistic media.

Robert Rauschenberg (art director) for Speaking in Tongues performed by Talking Heads

Rauschenberg’s approach was sometimes called “Neo-Dada,” a label he shared with the painter and close friend, Jasper Johns. Rauschenberg’s oft-repeated quote that he wanted to work “in the gap between art and life” suggested a questioning of the distinction between art objects and everyday objects, reminiscent of the issues raised by the notorious “Fountain” of Dada pioneer Marcel Duchamp. At the same time, Johns’ paintings of numerals, flags, and the like, were reprising Duchamp’s message of the role of the observer in creating art’s meaning.

Alternatively, in 1961, Rauschenberg took a step in what could be considered the opposite direction by championing the role of creator in creating art’s meaning. Rauschenberg was invited to participate in an exhibition at the Galerie Iris Clert, where artists were to create and display a portrait of the owner, Iris Clert. Rauschenberg’s submission consisted of a telegram sent to the gallery declaring “This is a portrait of Iris Clert if I say so.”

By 1962, Rauschenberg’s paintings were beginning to incorporate not only found objects but found images as well – photographs transferred to the canvas by means of the silkscreen process. Previously used only in commercial applications, silkscreen allowed Rauschenberg to address the multiple reproducibility of images, and the consequent flattening of experience that that implies. In this respect, his work is contemporaneous with that of Andy Warhol, and both Rauschenberg and Johns are frequently cited as important forerunners of American Pop Art.

In 1966, Billy Klüver and Rauschenberg officially launched Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) a non-profit organization established to promote collaborations between artists and engineers.

In addition to painting and sculpture, Rauschenberg’s long career has also included significant contributions to printmaking and Performance Art. He also won a Grammy Award for his album design of the Talking Heads album Speaking in Tongues. As of 2003 he continues to work from his home and studio in Captiva, Florida.