TOM WESSELMANN | Study for Still Life #40



Study for Still Life #40
signed and dated 64
liquitex and graphite on paper
22¾ by 31⅝ in. 57.7 by 80.3 cm.

Price Available Upon Request

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Study for Still Life #40 is an important example of Tom Wesselmann’s most iconic still life studies – the series as a whole embodying a pivotal shift in the artist’s trajectory. Executed in 1964, Study for Still Life #40 represents the exact moment in which Wesselmann reigned in the compositional structure of these works, presenting the quotidian objects themselves – rather than the environments in which these objects were placed – as the sole emphasis and focus of the work. As the oft-told story goes, Wesselmann was at his plastic manufacturer’s warehouse in Brooklyn when he spotted a “big, corny, red plastic relief apple. When he placed it on a shelf with a white background [at his home], it had such a visually intense presence to him that he felt staggered” (Slim Stealingworth, Tom Wesselmann, New York 1980, p. 43). This shining, flattened, hyperrealist fruit is the very subject that changed the course of Wesselmann’s career, resulting in what Stealingworth would only describe as “the most physically intense version of the object” (ibid., p. 43). Here, Study for Still Life #40 demonstrates Wesselmann’s search for this heightened “intensity” through the use of a simplified and brightly colored visual vocabulary that speaks to an era of rising consumerism in America.

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