Lot 212
  • 212

Tom Wesselmann

800,000 - 1,200,000 USD
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  • Tom Wesselmann
  • Bedroom Painting #46
  • signed and dated 77-81 on the overlap; stamp signed, titled and dated 1977-81 on the stretcher
  • oil on shaped canvas
  • 65 3/4 by 76 in. 167 by 193 cm.


Sidney Janis Gallery, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above in 1982


New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, Recent Work by Tom Wesselmann, May 1982, n.n.
Roslyn Harbor, New York, Nassau County Museum of Art, Long Island Collects: The Figures and Landscape, 1870's-1980's, September - December 1990, cat. no. 47, p. 91, illustrated in color


This work is in very good condition. There is very light wear to the extreme edges and there are highly unobtrusive pin-point losses to the lateral edges as is to be expected of an unframed, shaped canvas. The paint layers are sound and the colors are fresh and bright. The lamp shade is highly modeled and the central field of lighter yellow is as the artist intended and not faded. There is a small area of uneven paint texture located 16 ½ in. from the top and 33 in. from the right, where the grey meets the yellow, under ultra-violet inspection, this area did not fluoresce. There is no apparent restoration visible under UV light. Unframed. .
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Acquired immediately after its execution by the present owners from the Sidney Janis Gallery exhibition in New York in 1982, the present work is one of Wesselmann's most striking and iconic Bedroom paintings.  Painted between 1977 and 1981, Bedroom Painting #46 is an outstanding example of the artist's series of shaped canvases that focused on a female's state of lust or passion in a bedroom.  Depicting a blonde female seductively positioned against a still life invoking a bedroom scene at night, this arrestingly original Pop image is dominated by the female subject in profile with bright red lips, azure colored eye shadow and shocking blonde hair along side a lamp, framed portrait of "another" woman and a light switch, peaking the viewer's interest as to who exactly shares this private moment in Bedroom Painting #46

Beginning in 1967 until 1984, Wesselmann's Bedroom Paintings, consists of 78 numbered paintings (and a handful of adjunct, oddly numbered or unnumbered works) in all.  This group included part of his Drop-Out series, where the shape of the body forms one or more edges of the shaped canvas.  The Bedroom Paintings series importantly saw him exploring new compositions based around the female form with a greater sense of freedom and joy.  Here the explicit sexual confrontation of his watershed series begun in the early 1960s of Great American Nudes is replaced by the quieter eroticism of the female profile with eyes closed and mouth seductively parted.  Rendered in Wesselmann's inimitably sensual style, the composition actively focuses our attention upon the feminine beauty and assemblages of objects which occupy his interior spaces.  There is a powerful sense of theatricality also which emerges from the dramatic scale and shaped canvas which transports us into the composition and therefore, in to the bedroom.

In works such as Bedroom Painting #46, Wesselmann's tones and brushstrokes have a greater sense of realism and depth, while the use of oil allowed for finer renderings of nuance than acrylic on this large scale.  No longer just line and color, the skin and features of the subject's face are more shaded than the generalized and flat skin tones of the earlier nudes, creating greater depth in the overall composition, enhanced by the still life behind.  The sculptural quality of the shaped canvas also brought an added sense of realism and graphic power to the present work.  Wesselmann was "consistently successful at achieving a maximum of visual intensity while also maintaining some semblance of realism." (Slim Stealingworth, Tom Wesselmann, New York, 1980, p. 79)