• One by One: Tom Wesselmann

    March 23 – April 4, 2021

  • Almine Rech is pleased to share Tom Wesselmann: Nude Drawing 2/11/00 (9), the fifth installment of One by One, Almine Rech’s series of exclusive online viewing rooms dedicated to extraordinary individual artworks.


    • Tom Wesselmann Nude Drawing 2/11/00 (9), 2000 Charcoal on paper 194 x 148 x 6,5 cm (framed) 76 3/8 x 58 1/4 x 2 1/2 Inches (framed)
      Tom Wesselmann
      Nude Drawing 2/11/00 (9), 2000
      Charcoal on paper
      194 x 148 x 6,5 cm (framed)
      76 3/8 x 58 1/4 x 2 1/2 Inches (framed)


  • Nude Drawing 2/11/00 (9), 2000 demonstrates, along with many of the artist's works, how Tom Wesselmann looked to Henri Matisse during the entirety of his career. This particular artwork embodies Wesselmann's practice and exploration in his final years, where the image of the nude became more schematic and less specific.

    This charcoal nude represents a direct reference to Matisse's works on paper, specifically to his 1930s drawings made with a technique known as estompe, a use of charcoal which enabled Matisse to permeate his works with smoky shadows and a silvery glow. We find here a shared search for harmony through pictorial economy. Matisse referred to this fundamental quality of drawing as "essential lines."

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  • Wesselmann Seen by Mickalene Thomas


    After years of considering Tom Wesselmann's work, the more I find common themes in my practice and the more I see his relevance to the larger contemporary art world. Though I studied Wesselmann during art school, it wasn't until I was preparing for my 2007 show, An Imitation of Love: Brawlin' Spitfire Two, at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, that I fully considered his work beyond the academic confines of Pop art.

    At the time, I wanted to explore shaped canvases, negative space, and how these strategies intersect with the abstracted figure. I immediately thought of Wesselmann's Drop-Outs from the 1980s, an apparent continuation of his Smokers, Seascapes, and Bedroom Paintings series. Like Wesselmann, I work with the figure, and, especially in my early work, the paintings are sometimes very erotically loaded. However, where I think the true familial relationship exists between our bodies of work is in the exploration of form and historical genre. The paintings that resulted from my 2007 investigations, which included my Wesselmann research, are of tangled, wrestling figures that recede into and advance out of the negative space surrounding them. Like Wesselmann's figurative work, these paintings are psychologically and sensually charged, but also formally driven, and aim to expand the historical genre of figurative painting. Shortly after my Los Angeles exhibition, I saw a number of Wesselmann's Drop-Out paintings at Yvon Lambert in New York: a gratifying and humbling experience.

  • My favorite Wesselmann is Sunset Nude with Matisse (2002), in which he incorporates Matisse's painting La blouse roumaine (1940). Matisse's figurative works are such incredibly rich and powerful material to contend with that I can identify and sympathize with the allure they exerted on the artist. It seems to me that Matisse's cut-outs were a considerable, material influence in this later work as well, especially on the shaped aluminum Blue Nude pieces from the 2000s. The most important thing that an artist can do is join in and continue the con­versation begun by his or her predecessors, while adding an entirely distinct and contemporary voice to the fray. Wesselmann accomplished this throughout his career with his vibrant, graphic, and expressive investigations of the figure, landscape, and still life.


    Mickalene Thomas, August 2011

    © Mickalene Thomas, LLC.
    Originally published in Tom Wesselmann (exhibition catalogue), Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Delmonico Books, 2012.



  • Tom Wesselmann in his studio with Sunset Nude with Matisse Odalisque, 2003 © The Estate of Tom Wesselmann. All Rights Reserved


  • Mickalene Thomas is a New York based distinguished visual artist, filmmaker and curator who works in various mediums. She received her MFA from Yale University and her BFA from Pratt institute. She is a recipient of the Yale School of Art Presidential Fellowship in Fine Arts (2020), Pauli Murray College Associate Fellow at Yale University (2020), Meyerhoff-Becker Biennial Commission at Baltimore Museum of Art (2019), United States Artists Francie Bishop Good & David Horvitz Fellow (2015), and is an alumnus of the Studio Museum in Harlem Artist-in-Residency program (2003) and the Versailles Foundation Munn Artists Program in Giverny (2011). Thomas is a recipient of many awards and grants, among them are the Bronx Museum of the Arts Pathmakers Award (2019), Anonymous Was A Woman Award (2013), Brooklyn Museum Asher B. Durand Award (2012), Timerhi Award for Leadership in the Arts (2010), Joan Mitchell Grant (2009), Pratt Institute Alumni Achievement Award (2009), and the Rema Hort Mann Grant (2007). She has been honored by a number of institutions and organizations including the Aperture Foundation, SFMoMA, MoMA PS1, and the Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum. She has exhibited at prestigious institutions across North America including the Brooklyn Museum, MoMA PS1, Seattle Art Museum, SFMoMA, National Portrait Gallery, Baltimore Museum of Art, Bass Museum of Art, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Wexner Center for the Arts, and Aspen Art Museum. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, Newark Museum of Art, Seattle Art Museum, Hara Museum of Art, Rubell Museum, and Studio Museum in Harlem, among other public and private institutions and collections. She is the co-founder of the Pratt>FORWARD ‘Artist in the Market’ incubator for post-graduate students, and serves on the Board of the Trustees for the Brooklyn Museum and MoMA PS1.


    Mickalene Thomas, I Learned the Hard Way, 2010

    Rhinestones, acrylic and enamel on panel / 304.8 x 244 cm ; 120 x 96 inches
    The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, purchase, the Museum Campaign 1988‑1993 Fund
    Photo MMFA, © Mickalene Thomas



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