Sidney Janis Gallery, New York
Janie C. Lee Gallery, Houston
Private Collection, Houston (acquired from the above in 1983)
Christie's, New York, May 17, 2007, lot 183
Acquired by the present owner from the above sale
New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, New York by Tom Wesselmann, May 1982, no. 3
Despite Tom Wesselmann's early passion for the abstract expressionist painting while studying at New York's Cooper Union, his work took an unlikely direction, "I only got started by doing the opposite of everything I loved. And in choosing representational painting I decided to do, as my subject matter, the history of art: I would do nudes, still-lifes, landscapes, interiors, portraits, etc." (Marco Livingstone, "Tom Wesselmann: Telling it Like it Is," in Exh. Cat., Tokyo, Isetan Museum of Art, Tom Wesselmann, a Retrospective Survey, 1969-1992, 1993, p. 21).
As his work developed, Wesselmann sharpened his ability to depict the urban mass and the subtleties of American pop culture, as well as its erotic tendencies. Still Life with Belt and Sneaker, 1981, highlights the artist's persistent exploration into these areas.
The painting's visual narrative juxtaposes a variety of brightly colored images in a well-balanced composition. The artist places his own black belt in the foreground in stark contrast to several commonplace feminine items including a pink tennis shoe and a vase. Wesselmann, well known for incorporating sexually provocative women in his works, places a photo of a pair of attractive young women tacked against the back of the large cut-out, adding an enigmatically suggestive element. There is a powerful sense of theatricality which emerges from the dramatic scale and shaped canvas, which transports the viewer into the composition and as such into the bedroom.
Under the pen-name Slim Stealingworth, in a self-titled monograph, the artist once explained, "In all of my dimensional work I use the third dimension to intensify the two-dimensional experience. It becomes part of a valid two-dimensional image. The third dimension, while actually existing, is only an illusion in terms of painting, which remains my intent in a painting and not a sculptural context," (Slim Stealingworth, Tom Wesselmann, New York, 1980, pp. 34-37).
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