Born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1931 Tom Wesselmann is claimed as one of the five founding members of Pop Art along with Warhol, Lichtenstein, Rosenquist and Oldenburg.
After graduating high school he studied psychology at Cincinnati University for one year before being drafted into military service for the Korean War. While overseas, he began drawing cartoons to help alleviate his grim situation. Upon his return he moved to New York and enrolled in Cooper Union School for the Arts and Architecture. Wesselmann provided cartoons for several newspapers and magazines, but then turned his attention to painting and collage. These collages would later become the template for his famous Great American Nude series, which he began in 1960. This 100 piece series of brightly coloured faceless nude women, which Wesselmann would complete by the decade’s end, remain the works for which the artist was best known. Early pieces of the series were shown at Wesselmann’s first solo exhibition was help at the Tanager Gallery in New York in 1961. One year later, he participated in the New Realist’s exhibition at the Sidney Janis Gallery which promptly launched his international career. Wesselmann then began to work with large scale collages using three-dimensional household objects like carpet and telephones.
In the 1980s he worked with aluminium and enamel and produced his first Metal Work in 1983.
Wesselmann continued to produce work until his death in 2004 after complications due to heart surgery.