Kevin Conley has a nice pocket profile of Tom Wesselman’s career and market in September’s T magazine. With recent shows by the Wesselmann Foundation at Mitchell-Innes and Nash as well as one coming up at Almine Rech in Paris this October, Conley claims the artist has become newly relevant to today’s figurative painters:
the rise of a new generation of figurative artists inspired by his work — including Erik Parker, Matthew Palladino and particularly Mickalene Thomas, who feels that she is continuing his “psychologically and sensually charged” conversation.
Wesselmann’s market has spent decades on the verge of breaking out after the rise in the values of his contemporaries; however, Wesselmann’s position in the Pop pantheon was foreshadowed at the time:
Then, all of a sudden, it was like he was the fifth Beatle — a moment in history. Although collectors continued to buy his work throughout his life, the spotlight had shifted and early supporters began abandoning him. The curator Henry Geldzahler, one of his earliest champions, left him out of his landmark show, “New York Painting and Sculpture: 1940-1970,” the Metropolitan Museum’s maiden foray into contemporary art. Lawrence Alloway, the British critic widely credited with coining the term Pop Art, afforded Wesselmann only a token presence in his 1974 Whitney Museum survey of Pop. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, a few feminist critics made Wesselmann the whipping boy for the male gaze, but more damaging was the unwillingness of American museums to show the nudes. In the wake of the obscenity trial that haunted the Robert Mapplethorpe show in the ’90s, curators treated his brand of wholesome eroticism as if it was an advertisement for unprotected sex.
The Most Famous Pop Artist You Don’t Know (The New York Times)