signed twice, titled and dated twice 2002 and 03 on the overlap
Private Collection (acquired directly from the artist)
Christie's, New York, November 16, 2006, lot 162
Acquired by the present owner from the above sale
In Sunset Nude (Big Red Pillow), 2002-2003, Tom Wesselmann explores the female nude through an amalgamation of his Pop sensibility and late career aesthetic. Drawing from the magazines, advertisements and other mass media of the time, Wesselmann depicts the modern day pin-up girl. His 1960s exploration of the nude matures into a simpler, more refined style as Wesselmann deconstructs the nude figure by using vivid colors and bold elements. The figure is reduced and flattened, no longer represented as an object of desire.
Although the Sunset Nude series draws inspiration from the traditions and evocations of masters like Matisse and Manet, it is clear that Wesselmann had his own interpretations of the odalisque. "Wesselmann's nudes function as visual correlatives that transfer the sexual charge from the icon of the odalisque to our experience of the painting itself." (Exh. Cat., London, Bernard Jacobson Gallery, Tom Wesselmann, 2004, p. 6) Although sensual, Sunset Nude (Big Red Pillow) does not suggest the same venerability and eroticism conveyed by some of his earlier works. Instead, Wesselmann relies on color and form to render a dynamic composition. The blonde figure reclines against a backsplash of primary colors and bands of white that accentuate the female form. The tulips and large red pillow add playfulness and sensuality. The composition is flat, yet the various elements play off one another to create an excitement and energy. Wesselmann invites the viewer to look without feeling intrusive. Sunset Nude (Big Red Pillow) is a brilliant example of Wesselmann's final expression of the female nude.
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